Umpire Koertzen to retire in July

DUBAI: Rudi Koertzen will retire as a top-flight umpire following the two-Test series between Pakistan and Australia in England in July, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced Friday.

The 61-year-old South African''s career is set to end at Headingley, where the econd ''neutral'' Test starts on July 21 after the series opener at Lord''s.

That will leave Koertzen, renowned for his deliberately slow method of giving a batsman out, with a record of having stood in 106 Tests, a record 209 one day internationals and 14 20 over internationals.

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said of his fellow South African: "He is one of the most respected umpires in the game and has always been confident and self-motivated yet humble.

"His outstanding service to the game and a wonderful career at the elite level needs acknowledgement."

Koertzen, currently officiating in the triangular ODI series in Zimbabwe, said in an ICC statement: "It has been 18 incredible years for me as an international umpire and I have thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it.

"Even though I will retire after the Leeds Test, I''ll be more than happy to assist and help young umpires if they need my guidance as cricket also teaches us to give something back to the sport.

"After 18 years in business, I think it is payback time."

South Africa''s Marais Erasmus and Rodney Tucker of Australia have been included in the ICC''s elite panel of umpires for the 2010/11 season, starting July 1, 2010.

They will replace Koertzen and England''s Mark Benson, who stepped down from the elite panel in February.