Supportive wife Kathleen never expected that prod in 1998 would lead to more than 20 years as a top-grade umpire in the game he loves.


Barsby, 69, hit a rare milestone last Saturday when he stood in his 200th first grade two-day match between Redlands and Ipswich at Peter Burge Oval.


“Kath thought umpiring was a good way to get me off the couch and out of the house but I don’t think she expected I’d still be at it more than 20 years later,” Barsby said with a trademark smile as he reflected on his achievement this week.

“Some say you’re mad standing out there all day as an umpire but it’s good fun and you do get to enjoy great cricketers from the best seat in the house.”

Barsby has always brought his own experience as a first-grade cricketer to the role. He played for Sandgate-Redcliffe from 1969-86, ground out a first-grade century and played with the likes of Trevor Hohns, Martin Kent, Bob “Grumpy” Joyce, Max Walters and younger brother Trevor.


When he was allocated a Sandgate-Redcliffe game some years ago, the inevitable happened with Trevor’s son Corey opening the batting in a club one-dayer at Trevor Hohns Oval.


“Third ball, he was hit on the toe in front, I made the lbw decision and he trudged off,” Barsby said.


“(Valley captain) Andrew Gode said ‘You took your time making that was pretty straightforward.”


Barsby had a valid reason for his momentary hesitation over his nephew’s exit.


“See that little old lady watching from over the boundary. She didn’t come to watch me umpire, she came to watch her grandson bat,” Barsby said.


Barsby has four times been awarded the Bob Spence Medal by the Queensland Cricket Umpires’ and Scorers’ Association (QCUSA) for best exemplifying the spirit of contribution on and off the field.

“When I turned up at my first umpires’ meeting, (then-QCUSA secretary) Merv Musch spluttered over his beer in surprise, ’ want to be an umpire after how you treated them?’” Barsby said of banter right from the start.

Barsby has never been one to hide from a poor decision because all in cricket make mistakes.


“You have to be man enough to admit a mistake. I’ve been called a few names by players short term but I think you earn more respect by owning up if you get one wrong,” Barsby said.


Barsby has seen most forms of dismissal on the field and once gave out a Wynnum-Manly batsman “obstructing the field” when he kicked the ball away just as the bowler was about to field it.


Umpiring can deliver precious memories. In 2015, he stood in an Australia-England “Test”...for over-70s at Allan Border Field.


While he was umpiring, the sound of son Chris, the long-time harness racing caller, drifted in from nearby Albion Park.

“It was one of those father moments. Chris’ race call at the trots came wafting over the ground while I was umpiring,” the proud father said.

As for the nickname. He wasn't prophetically tagged after the late umpire Lou Rowan. It was because he wore heavy glasses as a youngster when "Louie the Fly" had the big eyes in the old Mortein ads.  

Barsby gave no inkling of calling time after standing in more than 575 matches in all forms of the game and his wife is still supportive.


Brother Trevor smiles at the memory of Ian telling him he felt like giving a serve to a fieldsman who (accidentally) branded him in the back during a run out attempt with a cannon shot throw but bit his lip when he turned to see it was Marnus Labuschagne.


“That’s the thing that surprises me,’’ Trevor said. “He obviously does a very good job but he is such a competitive bugger. I sometimes think that might bubble to the surface but he seems to stay clear-headed and calm.


“He loves it. To me, spending eight hours out in the sun like he does I reckon he’s got rocks in his head. He rings me up Monday morning and tries to give me the ball-by-ball account of who batted well and which way the wind was blowing. I ask him to tell me the short version and the best sledges but he won’t tell me.


“No-one has ever said anything bad about him as an umpire to me so I have interpreted that to mean he is good at his job.’’