Umpire Benson confirms retirement
The English umpire, Mark Benson, has confirmed his retirement from the ICC elite panel, and will see out his career on the county circuit, following his sudden withdrawal from the Adelaide Test between Australia and West Indies in December.
Benson hit the headlines on the opening day of the second Test on December 4, when he was reported to be upset over several incidents involving the Umpire Decision Review System, one of which led to his original decision against Shivnarine Chanderpaul being overturned.
He withdrew from the contest and flew back to England while the match was still taking place, although the ICC later claimed his withdrawal had been on the grounds of ill-health.
"I have enjoyed my time on the elite panel immensely," said Benson in an ICC statement on Friday. "The opportunity to be part of the global game has given me memories that I will always treasure. But travel and being away from home takes its toll on the family and some warning bells have started to ring regarding my health.
"So, having thought about it carefully, I feel now is the right time for me to step down and move to a more settled and familiar environment in England."
Although Benson's contract was not due to expire until the end of June 2010, he asked if he could be released from it three months early so he could take up a contract with the ECB and this request was granted.
"I'd like to thank the ICC and my umpiring colleagues on the elite panel for their support over the years," added Benson. "Umpiring at the top level has been a very rewarding experience for me and it is not an easy decision to walk away from it but I believe it is the right one as far as my health and family are concerned.
Vince van der Bijl, the ICC's umpires' and referees' manager said: "Mark's immense love for and enjoyment of cricket shines through his umpiring. His on-field calm demeanour will be missed, as will his friendly and easygoing disposition.
"We fully understand and support his decision, which was brought on by a desire to spend more time in England with his family and some concerns about health issues. He will add richly to the county circuit as he is a talented and hugely experienced umpire and we wish him great success."
In total, Benson umpired 27 Tests, 72 ODIs and 19 T20Is, including the final of the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 final in Johannesburg in September 2007. He had been on the elite panel since 2006 and was offered a contract by the ECB to return to domestic cricket as a first-class umpire.