Two respected cricket umpires have attended a tribunal as part of a claim for unfair dismissal and age discrimination against the national governing body for Cricket, the English Cricket Board, after it forced the pair into retirement.
Peter Willey (65) and George Sharp (64) have a combined total of 45 years of umpire experience, and as members of the high profile First Class Umpire list, they have also officiated at international matches. First Class umpires are required to undergo annual eye tests, and as such no concerns about the standard of their eyesight — or indeed their ability to competently do their jobs — have been questioned.
Government legislation introduced in 2011 abolished the default retirement age, so employers were no longer able to force male employees to stop work at 65 unless they could objectively justify the decision.
Chris Kelly, Umpires Manager for the ECB said at the tribunal, “it was perfectly justified in ending the men’s umpiring careers at the age of 65 while they are still relatively at the top of their game”.
Mr Kelly also told the tribunal that by restricting the age of umpires, the ECB can offer those vacant positions to cricket professionals in their thirties and forties who have retired from playing and would like to pursue a career as a cricket umpire.
Representatives of Mr Willey and Mr Sharp point out that both parties are fully competent in their roles, and the ECB is able to create umpire vacancies in other ways.
The outcome of the tribunal is expected by the end of February.
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