England news January 20, 2016

Mark Benson - the umpire who made history - calls time on career

Mark Benson lays down the law to Ricky Ponting © AFP

Mark Benson, who claimed a small place in cricket history when he became the first international umpire to have a decision overturned under the Decision Review System, has ended his professional career.

Benson has withdrawn from the county circuit after a back surgery, concluding that standing over the stumps day after day is not conducive to a speedy recovery.

Tillakaratne Dilshan was the batsman appealed successfully to the TV umpire, Rudi Koertzen, in 2008 after being given out by Benson in a Test between Sri Lanka and India in Colombo. Some would joke that India have had no time for the system ever since.

Benson played one Test and one ODI for England in 1986 before taking to umpiring, winning a place on the ICC elite umpiring panel and was twice nominated as ICC Umpire of the Year.

But DRS sat uneasily with him - and the ICC was forced to deny his hostility towards the system when in 2009 he walked out of a Test between Australia and West Indies in Adelaide on the second morning because of stress-related ill health.

ESPNcricinfo reported at the time that he had "ranted" in the dressing room about the system which was then in its early stages and lacked the confidence in its procedures that - barring occasional blips - has been seen in intervening years.

Benson twice ruled Shivnarine Chanderpaul not out following appeals for wicketkeeping catches. Asad Rauf, the TV umpire, upheld Benson's first decision, to the fury of the Australia captain, Ricky Ponting. Benson's second verdict was overruled by Rauf with little evidence for the reversal - Hot Spot not showing any contact between bat and ball.

He had suffered heart palpitations in a Test in India, having to be guided from the field by Rauf, his on-field umpiring partner, and to nobody's surprise ended his international career in 2010, at only 52, and returned to the county circuit.

He also played a role in one of England's biggest on-field controversies of the past 20 years, trying - and failing - to get England's captain Paul Collingwood to withdraw a run-out appeal against New Zealand's Grant Elliott after a mid-pitch collision with Ryan Sidebottom at The Oval. Collingwood quickly apologised as he was accused of England's most embarrassing captaincy moment since Michael Atherton's dirt-in-the-pocket ball tampering affair.

Benson, who will be replaced on the ECB full umpire's list by Billy Taylor, a former fast bowler for Hampshire and Sussex. is the second county umpire to call time recently. Martin Bodenham, the only person ever to referee at Premier League level and umpire in first-class cricket, has also retired.

ECB Umpires List 2016: Rob Bailey, Neil Bainton, Paul Baldwin, Michael Burns, Nick Cook, Nigel Cowley, Jeff Evans, Russell Evans, Steve Gale, Steve Garratt, Michael Gough, Ian Gould, Peter Hartley, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough, Nigel Llong, Graham Lloyd, Jeremy Lloyds, Neil Mallender, David Millns, Steve O'Shaughnessy, Billy Taylor, Tim Robinson, Martin Saggers, Alex Wharf.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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  • Basingpiechucker on January 24, 2016, 6:23 GMT

    He was in the running for the Ashes tour of 1990-91 but had his thumb broken after a rapid 100 against Sussex (he almost made 100 before lunch on the first day). He had a great knack of placing the ball to take easy singles and on his day made batting look easy.

  • JohnYelton on January 21, 2016, 18:16 GMT

    @Edwind and JohnathanJosephs. This is not quite fair on Gavaskar. They did go for it at the beginning. The first partnership was quick, and it was over 5/over at the beginning. But then Edmonds took wickets and slowed things down, so that England were on top for a while. Moreover, weather ended things early. Gavaskar's famous 36 not out was an oddity and he has changed his story over the years. I am sure he must have regretted it afterwards.

  • johnathonjosephs on January 21, 2016, 7:01 GMT

    @Edwind You seem to not be very familiar with Sunil Gavaskar. In the very first game of the very first World Cup (1975), England batted first and made 334 from 60 overs. In reply, India made 132-3 in 60 overs and lost by quite a margin. Sunil Gavaskar was 36* from 174 balls at a strike rate of 20.68 . Gavaskar had been quoted as saying that he believed the English score was unobtainable and there was no point in trying to chase such a high score and getting out, so he played safely

  • EdwinD on January 21, 2016, 2:21 GMT

    Just noticed that in his only Test India had over 80 overs to chase down 234 to whitewash the series 3-0.....and didn't go for it - incredible!

  • JohnYelton on January 20, 2016, 21:25 GMT

    Give the man a break. He didn't make history, he simply made a decision. Then the 3rd umpire made history by over-ruling him. He also opened in tests for England - once and once only. Rather unlucky considering his first class average was over 40, and very few Englishmen of his generation managed that without being given a real chance in tests.

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