Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Umpire Benson blasts retirement claim insisting ill health led to walk-out

English umpire Mark Benson yesterday said he was not planning to retire from international cricket and dismissed reports that he had walked out of a Test match last week after a disagreement over the controversial referral system as "unfounded and totally untrue."

Benson had reportedly been ready to quit the game after standing down from his duties during the second Test between Australia and West Indies in Adelaide over the weekend amid growing dissatisfaction with the implementation of the umpire decision review system.

The 51-year-old returned home on Sunday night citing ill health as the reason for his departure and confirmed yesterday that he is undergoing medical tests for an unspecified ailment.

"I would like to clarify that I have not resigned as an elite panel umpire," said Benson in a statement issued through the International Cricket Council, his employers. "I had withdrawn after the first day's play as I felt that -- due to my general health -- I was not up to the task and it was in the best interests of the game, the ICC and myself that I step down."

On the pitch, Australia were left in the embarrassing position of having to hold out for out for a draw against yesterday.

The West Indies had Ricky Ponting's side on the back foot, but were unable to press home their advantage as Australia, chasing 330 for victory and unlikely win, reached 212 for five when stumps were drawn.

Dwayne Bravo led the West Indies' victory charge, the all-rounder taking 3 for 37. The hosts lost two quick wickets after tea and from that point were under siege, with the West Indies captain, Chris Gayle, surrounding the batsmen with close-in fielders while the side's medium pacers were in action.

But Michael Clarke (61 not out) and Brad Haddin (21no) shared in an anxious but unbeaten 73-run partnership and importantly occupied the crease for 85 minutes to guide Australia to safety.

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