Syed Khalid Mahmood
Pakistan ’s Aleem Dar had been recognized as one of the best umpires in the cricket world for quite a few years and it seemed a matter of time for him to be declared the best in the business officially.
Arguably the greatest cricket umpire to have been produced by the country, the super fit and ever smiling Aleem has earned the kind of respect in every nook and corner of the globe that very few colleagues could come close.
Only Simon Taufel of Australia matches his brilliance. Both of them have a few rare qualities in common that enable them to come to terms with the pressure-cooker situations where ordinary mortals run the risk of faltering.
It’s in the fitness of things that Aleem has replaced Taufel as the best cricket umpire in the world. The Australian was crowned as the ICC Umpire of the Year for the past four years but now the award has been clinched by Aleem.
A beaming Aleem received the coveted award from the ICC Chief Executive, Haroon Logart, in the recent ceremony in Johannesburg . He was as cool and confident as he’s standing in the middle when Ravi Shastri asked him a few questions at the stage.
The modest and unassuming character that he always is, Aleem mentioned the contribution of his family and friends in his rise to fame. His only ‘regret’ appeared to be living away from his wife for about six months every year.
Well Aleem should not mind this brief ‘separation’ because the sacrifice has earned him the kind of fame and fortune that many of his colleagues may not even dream of it. One has to pay the price for everything and in his case there’s loneliness.
Aleem, who started his career in cricket as a middle-order batsman and leg-spinner, also might not have imagined going this far in the game. How could he have known, at the time when he took to the game as a youngster, that he would be hailed as one of the greatest umpires one day?
It must have been a blessing in disguise for him that he didn’t score too many runs or took too many wickets to be considered for national selection. Rather he diverted his energies by standing as an umpire and didn’t look back after finding a firm foothold in the arena.
He proved an instant hit in the field of umpiring and his confidence level belied his age. He was in complete control while making decisions and his standout nerves of steel caught the imagination of the movers and shakers of the game.
He was only 32 when he stood in his first One-day International at Gujranawala in February 2000. He made it to the ICC panel in a matter of just a couple of years. He impressed everyone with his outstanding abilities and went on and on. He made his World Cup debut in 2003. He had the honour of standing in the final of the World Cup four years later.
Now he has traveled to every continent of the world having supervised Test matches and ODIs regularly. He is one of the busiest umpires in the game today.
October 5, 2009