New Zealand's top-ranked cricket umpire, Tony Hill, has quit the elite panel to become an umpiring coach in his home country.
The International Cricket Council said the 62-year-old had stepped down from the 12-strong elite panel to take up a role as New Zealand Cricket's umpires coach.
Hill, from Auckland, was promoted to the elite panel in 2009 and was the only New Zealander ranked at the highest level after compatriot Billy Bowden was demoted to the international panel last year.
Hill's final test was as third umpire for the fifth Australia-England test in Sydney this week.
He stood as an on-field umpire in the Ashes series in England but, after several decision-making controversies, was appointed as a third umpire only for the return series in Australia. English media reported last year that Hill was considering retirement.
Hill made his international debut with an ODI between New Zealand and Zimbabwe in Napier in March 1998, and went on to officiate in 40 tests, 96 ODIs and 17 T20Is in a 15-year career as a top-level umpire. He umpired in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups and the World T20 tournaments in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
"I have treasured my time as an umpire and more recently as an elite umpire. It has been so special officiating internationally among great players alongside the finest umpires in the world. What a privilege,'' Hill said.
"This wonderful opportunity as NZC umpire coach enables me to continue to be part of this marvellous match official community and work with the aspiring umpires throughout New Zealand. What a challenge and one I look forward to.''
Vince van der Bijl, ICC umpires and referees manager, paid tribute to Hill.
"Tony has given sterling service to the game over many years and his humour, commitment and selfless approach will be sorely missed. He loves cricket and officiating, so we are delighted that in his new role he will continue to serve the game and help New Zealand continue to produce top level umpires into the future.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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