Two cricket umpires who were forced to retire from the game because they have reached the age of 65 have accused the sport’s officials of age discrimination.
Peter Willey and George Sharp, 64, are claiming unfair dismissal after they were forced to retire by the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
The men, who have 45 years of elite umpiring experience between them, are claiming the ECB broke age discrimination laws.
Willey, who is a former England batsman and former chairman of umpires having officiated in 25 Test matches, said his own professional pride would have told when he should step down.
“I don’t want to carry on and leave the game with people thinking I wasn’t a very good umpire,” he told the Central London Employment Tribunal.
“When I finished my career at Leicestershire after 25 years I was asked to take the money and leave the club. For the last year and a half, I was not a very good cricketer and I don’t want that to happen as an umpire.”
Both men will be 65 by the start of the new cricket season in April, they have been removed from the list of approved umpires and will not be allowed to stand in first-class matches.
Former wicketkeeper Sharp told the tribunal that the decision should be made on ability not age.
“At the moment, my standards have not dropped, and at the end of the 2015 season I would know if my standards had dropped and I would go back to the board and discuss it,” he said.
In 2011, a UK law change stipulated that employers can no longer compulsorily retire employees or refuse to recruit prospective employees merely because they are over the age of 65.
The two men’s legal case could lead to a permanent change in cricket umpiring, as officials have until now always been required to retire at 65.
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