First-class umpires announced for 2006

The ECB has announced that Rob Bailey, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough and Neil Bainton have all been appointed to the full list of first-class umpires. They replace David Shepherd, Mervyn Kitchen, Alan Whitehead and John Hampshire all of whom retired at the end of the 2005 season.

Bailey and Illingworth have both made the transition from player to umpire after successful county careers. Bailey played four Tests for England but was more suited to the first-class game. He made almost 400 first-class appearances for Derbyshire and Northamptonshire, averaging 40.52 with the bat. Illingworth, who has been out of the county game since 2002, took 19 wickets in nine Tests for England with his left-arm spin and captured 831 wickets at first-class level, predominantly for Worcestershire.

"We are delighted to welcome these four umpires to our full list," Alan Fordham, ECB cricket operations manager said on Monday. "They have all performed outstandingly well during the past few years on the ECB reserve list and thoroughly deserve promotion. Our congratulations go to them all."

The ECB has 25 full-time umpires on their list, with between six and eight umpires on the reserve list.