After making 13 One-Day International appearances for England in 2004-5, Alex Wharf is now looking forward to returning to the ODI stage as an umpire.
The former Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Glamorgan all-rounder is the latest addition to the Emirates International Panel of ICC Umpires for 2018.
He becomes the fourth English umpire on that list, joining Rob Bailey, Michael Gough and Tim Robinson – while there are also four Englishmen on the Emirates Elite Panel in Ian Gould, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough and Nigel Llong.
“I loved the experience of playing international cricket, and I’m delighted to have been appointed to the ICC’s International Panel,” said Wharf, who was born in Bradford and will turn 43 this summer.
“I’ve enjoyed my journey into and through umpiring so far. As a player, I always loved the game and had the utmost respect for it. To have the opportunity to stay involved, to meet thousands of people who also love the game, and to come to grips with a new role where you do have to deal with a range of challenges, has been a pleasure and a privilege.
“I’ve enjoyed my journey into and through umpiring so far. As a player, I always loved the game and had the utmost respect for it. To have the opportunity to stay involved, to meet thousands of people who also love the game, and to come to grips with a new role where you do have to deal with a range of challenges, has been a pleasure and a privilege."
“I’ve enjoyed the experiences of international cricket I’ve gained in the women’s game and also in other representative matches such as the Lions, Under-19s and the North-South Series last year. This appointment is another step, and will hopefully allow me to gain further experiences in ODIs at home and abroad.”
The possibility of a move into umpiring first dawned on Wharf when he was on England duty in Zimbabwe in the winter of 2004-5.
“I was fortunate to be on an England tour, and I just got talking to the umpires, and the idea of pursuing a career in umpiring sprung into my mind – as I say, a good way to see the world and stay involved in something I thoroughly love.”
Wharf played on for five more seasons until retiring in 2009, and by 2011 he was umpiring his first senior matches from what used to be known as the ECB’s Reserves List, before receiving a full-time role in 2014.
“I’m very thankful to everyone in the umpiring fraternity who has helped me,” he added. “I’ve learned a lot about myself as well.”
International cricket may now be closer than ever, but Wharf will remain one of the 25 full-time officials on the ECB list for the 2018 summer. “Come the end of March I’ll probably be somewhere like The Parks for an MCCU match,” he said. “That’s the bread and butter of our game, and we all look forward to the start of the season.”
Wharf is not the only English official to have been recognised by the ICC this winter, as Phil Whitticase and Wayne Noon have been appointed to the Match Referees Panel after impressing with their work on the ECB’s panel of Cricket Liaison Officers.
Whitticase, the former Leicestershire wicketkeeper and coach, was one of the original four-man panel when it was introduced in 2015; Noon, another former ‘keeper with Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire who then had a spell on the coaching staff at Trent Bridge, joined the panel last summer.
Chris Broad remains the only Englishman on the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees for Test cricket, but Whitticase and Noon are now eligible for women’s internationals and other ICC fixtures.
Tom Harrison said: “I'm delighted to offer congratulations on behalf of the ECB to Alex, Phil and Wayne, and this is also a good moment to reflect on the high standard of officiating we enjoy in the professional game in England and Wales. Match officials are so pivotal to cricket in all forms and at all levels, and it is good to be able to celebrate the fact that our officials are so well-represented on the ICC’s international panels.”
The ECB have also confirmed four additions to the list of full-time First-Class Umpires this summer. Ian Blackwell, Ben Debenham, Paul Pollard and Russell Warren step up from what has previously been known as the Reserve List to restore the full-time list to 25, following the retirements in 2017 of Steve Garratt, Steve Gale and Nigel Cowley, and the death of Russell Evans which is still being mourned by so many in cricket and beyond.
They will be supported by six umpires on short-term contracts, following two new appointments for 2018: the former Northamptonshire batsman Rob White; and Ian Ramage, an experienced Scottish official who has stood in 35 One-Day Internationals including two matches between Scotland and England, in Edinburgh in 2010 and Aberdeen in 2014.
ECB First-Class Umpires 2018: Rob Bailey, Neil Bainton, Paul Baldwin, Ian Blackwell, Michael Burns, Nick Cook, Ben Debenham, Jeff Evans, Michael Gough, Ian Gould, Peter Hartley, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough, Nigel Llong, Graham Lloyd, Jeremy Lloyds, Neil Mallender, David Millns, Steve O'Shaughnessy, Paul Pollard, Tim Robinson, Martin Saggers, Billy Taylor, Russell Warren, Alex Wharf, Tom Lungley, James Middlebrook, Mark Newell, Ian Ramage, Chris Watts, Rob White.
Cricket Liaison Officers: Tim Boon, Dean Cosker, Graham Cowdrey, Stuart Cummings, Steve Davis, Richard Ellison, Wayne Noon, Tony Pigott, Lloyd Tennant, Phil Whitticase