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From County Championship winner to umpire in 18 months.

James Middlebrook

Former off-spinner James Middlebrook made his First-Class debut as an umpire on Tuesday - less than 18 months after winning the County Championships with Yorkshire.

Middlebrook has qualified as an umpire since retiring from the game and was placed on the ECB's reserve list of first class umpires for the 2017 season alongside former Sussex batsman Mark Newell. The 39-year-old recently stood in the middle for Leicestershire's pre-season match against Loughborough University's MCCU at the Fischer County Ground.

Middlebrook's journey towards becoming a First-Class umpire began in Cricket Victoria Premier Cricket during the 2014/2015 southern Summer. Middlebrook was playing 1st eleven cricket with Northcote and it was during this time that ECB Umpire Manager, Chris Kelly, contacted both Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria to see if James could umpire some matches in Melbourne. During this season, he began to umpire Junior Pathways cricket and country week cricket. 

In both the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 seasons James returned to Melbourne (at his own cost) to continue umpiring and refining his craft. In these seasons James umpired both Men’s and Women’s Premier Cricket and again Junior Pathways and Country Week matches.

James has stood with experienced Premier Cricket Umpires over his time with Cricket Victoria. They were all very impressed with his knowledge of the Laws (obviously honed whilst Captaining County Cricket teams) and his willingness to learn and improve. 

Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria congratulate James on his transition into umpiring.