Former umpires Peter Willey and George Sharp lost their age discrimination case against the England and Wales Cricket Board on Friday. Willey and Sharp were forced into retirement having reached the ECB's maximum age of 65, leading to claims for unfair dismissal and age discrimination.

But an employment tribunal, heard by Judge Wade in London last month, issued a written judgement to the parties on Friday in the governing body's favour. The ECB issued a statement that read: "We welcome today's decision which recognises that our current retirement policy for umpires is firmly based on sound legal principles and not discriminatory on grounds of age.

"ECB will continue to implement a retirement age of 65 in the interests of inter-generational fairness and in order to ensure that umpiring remains a viable career option for professional cricketers who are nearing the end of their playing careers."

Former England international Willey, 65, told the employment hearing last month that he would only want to quit the £51,270 ($75,546) job if he was not good enough. Willey, a former chairman of umpires who officiated in 25 Test matches during a cricket career spanning 49 years, said that time has not yet come.

He told the hearing in London: "I personally wouldn't want to see umpires carry on until their standards drop just for the sake of it. "I don't want to carry on and leave the game with people thinking I wasn't a very good umpire.

"If I was performing at the highest level and helping other umpires as I was, I thought I would be a benefit to the game of cricket." Both men told the tribunal that they did not intend to carry on indefinitely, but only wanted a two-year extension to their contracts, which could be reviewed after a year.