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ECB restructures umpiring panel

Naeem Ashraf, Sue Redfern, and Jack Shantry among 34-strong panel

Umpire Sue Redfern runs onto the field, Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, Central Sparks vs Northern Diamonds, Edgbaston, August 29, 2020

Sue Redfern could become the first woman to umpire a County Championship fixture at some stage in the next few years  •  Getty Images

The ECB has created a new 34-strong professional umpires' team following an independent review into the officiating of top-level cricket in England and Wales, with Sue Redfern becoming the first woman on the panel.
ESPNcricinfo revealed in 2020 that the ECB had been accused of overseeing "years of racism" in the appointment of match officials by John Holder and Ismail Dawood, two non-white umpires. The pair then launched a legal challenge against the ECB, which was later withdrawn.
In response, the ECB launched an independent review "to understand how the ECB can continue to best attract, appoint, develop, performance manage and evaluate match officials from all backgrounds". Among the key recommendations was the removal of the distinction between a full-time first-class panel of umpires and a part-time reserve list, which has now been adopted ahead of the 2022 season.
Neil Snowball, the ECB's managing director of county cricket, said: "This is significant because every umpire on the Professional Umpires' Team will now have the performance and financial support to make umpiring their sole career.
"Previously, Reserve List umpires have had to juggle their umpiring commitments with other work. Those umpires are now included in the single pool with more time and resources given to them to focus on developing their skills and ability as umpires.
"This also sends a clear message to anyone who wants to be an umpire that structures and support are in place that make umpiring a viable and attractive career choice."
Five umpires have been added to the new list: Naeem Ashraf, who played two ODIs for Pakistan in 1995, the former Worcestershire seamer Jack Shantry, Anthony Harris, Surendiran Shanmugam and Redfern. Their appointments follow the retirements of Jeff Evans, Jeremy Lloyds, Ian Gould and Ian Ramage in the last two years.
Redfern could become the first woman to umpire a County Championship fixture at some stage in the next few years but is likely to be allocated Second XI games initially, while juggling opportunities in the men's game with her international commitments in women's cricket.
A popular figure in the women's game and a former England international herself, Redfern became the first woman to officiate in an England men's home international fixture last summer when she was fourth umpire for a T20I against Sri Lanka in Cardiff.
"The most significant aspect of this opportunity for me is that, for the first time, I can focus all my energy on umpiring as a career," Redfern said. "This is my first full-time contract as an umpire. That means a lot to me as it allows me to challenge myself to take the next step in my career."
The ECB is also creating a new officiating department and have recruited Richard Glynne-Jones, previously the national referee manager at the FA, as their new head of officiating.