DateLine: 25th October 2007
Official says he has fulfilled his dreams; only goal is to be respected as a decision-maker
Aleem Dar became the 10th umpire to stand in 100 ODIs when he officiated in the Australia – India match in Mumbai last Wednesday.
The fact that Aleem has achieved the mark at the age of 39 – the second youngest after Simon Taufel who completed his ton earlier this year at 35 – is testament to his ability as an official.
Aleem’s first-class career as a middle-order batsman and wrist spinner spanned nearly a decade (between 1986/87 and 1997/98) but was altogether more modest. He scored 270 runs and took 11 wickets in 17 first-class matches for Gujranwala, Allied Bank, Lahore and Rawalpindi.
In sharp contrast, Aleem has earned the reputation as one of the best and most respected umpires in a short span, evident from the fact that he was nominated for the ICC Umpire of the Year award in 2006 only to be beaten by Taufel.
The journey to the top started in 1998, when Aleem turned his attention to umpiring and within two years made his debut as an international umpire in Gujranwala . In 2002, he was included in the ICC International Panel of Umpires and in April 2004, his excellent decision-making and temperament, particularly in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 in South Africa , earned him promotion to the ICC Emirates Elite Panel.
Aleem’s success story shows that determination, hard work and commitment are the key to success in any profession. It also reflects that not only the cricketers but officials can also reach the zenith of glory if there is a quest to rise. “It has been a fairy-tale ride for me,” admits a modest Aleem.
“Like any youngster, I also wanted to be a Test cricketer and although I couldn’t cherish my childhood ambitions because of various reasons, I find myself extremely honoured and lucky to still be an active member of the cricket fraternity.
“I couldn’t have a impressive career as a cricketer because I started my cricket late due to my father’s regular postings in remote areas. And when I really got an opportunity, there was fierce competition besides limited backing, facilities and resources.
“My lucky break came in 1998 when the Pakistan board encouraged former first-class cricketers to take up umpiring. I was not only included in the domestic panel but I got good opportunities in domestic first-class matches that provided me the platform to show that I can officiate tough games.
“In 2000, I made my ODI debut in Gujranwala and two years later I was included in the ICC Panel. Then, in 2004, I was included in the ICC Emirates Elite Panel on the basis of my performance in the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup in which I officiated in 12 ODIs besides being TV Umpire in one of the semi-finals.
“I consider myself extremely lucky and fortunate to have got optimum opportunities and best support, initially from the PCB and the ICC, and later by my fellow umpires, without whose continued guidance I would not have come this far,” he added.
Aleem said that by becoming a Test umpire he has fulfilled his dreams of being part of international cricket. “You don’t always get what you dream but I am one of those lucky people who almost achieved what they dreamed of.
“To officiate in 100 ODIs and 39 Tests is something like a dream come true. Completing a century of ODIs is not only an honour for me but also for Pakistan as I am the first umpire from Asia to achieve this distinction.”
Aleem admitted an umpire’s job was a demanding one and has required a lot of sacrifices and support from the family. “I owe a lot to them as without their support I would have never come this far.
“I believe that if the umpire doesn’t have the complete backing of his family, he will carry family problems on to the field and will consequently make mistakes. In my absence, my wife has brilliantly run the house and taken excellent care of our children.
“I owe a lot to all of them for helping me progress in my career. I sincerely hope I get good opportunities to pay them back for their sacrifices.”
Aleem believes his job is to administer the Laws and the playing conditions and to work with the participants to make sure the game is fair. “I don’t get overawed by who is bowling or batting. I just try to do the job to the best of my knowledge and ability.
“Like everyone else, I have also made mistakes and I will continue to make mistakes. But that’s the name of the game – you makes mistake, learn from then and move on.
“I think today we have got a strong group of officials who have taken the game to a new level in an era where we are under more scrutiny than ever before.”
Aleem has not set any specific goal for himself except to be respected as a good umpire. “Like every umpire, I also want to be respected for my decision-making and someone who ensured that a good game was played, and with cricket the winner.
“However, I am absolutely clear in my mind that when I leave umpiring, I will completely devote myself to my family and will try to make up for the lost time although nothing will turn the clock back and bring back something I missed. But at least I will be able to play a more proactive role in the development of my children,” he said.
Aleem received a plaque from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to mark his achievement in reaching 100 ODIs. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), on behalf of the International Cricket Council (ICC), will also felicitate Aleem during the Multan ODI between Pakistan and South Africa on 26 October.
The umpire with most appearances in ODIs is Rudi Koertzen who has so far stood in 182 matches.
Most appearances by umpires (as of 25 October 2007):
Rudi Koertzen ( South Africa ) – 182
David Shepherd ( England ) – 172
Steve Bucknor ( West Indies ) – 167
Daryl Harper ( Australia ) – 141
Darrell Hair ( Australia ) – 135
Billy Bowden ( New Zealand ) – 120
Simon Taufel ( Australia ) – 116
David Orchard ( South Africa ) – 107
Steve Dunne ( New Zealand ) – 100
Aleem Dar ( Pakistan ) – 100