By Syed Khalid Mahmood
Asoka de Silva of Sri Lanka was recognized by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for having become only the 12th umpire to reach the milestone of standing in 100 One-day Internationals (ODIs).
He had completed his century when he stood in the fifth ODI between Australia and Pakistan in Perth on January 31. His feat, however, was acknowledged officially on February 19 when the ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat presented him a crystal plaque before the start of the Twenty20 International between Pakistan and England at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai Sports City.
“I am humbled and honoured to have completed a century of ODIs as an umpire. When I look at the umpires who are on this list, it makes me really proud as the group includes some of the most iconic names of this noble profession,” de Silva, having played international cricket for seven years, remarked.
He appeared in 10 Tests and 28 One-day Internationals but he had ordinary record as a leg-spinner and a lower-order batsman. He could claim only eight Tests at a very high cost and his performance in the ODIs was only marginally better. But he has made it big as an umpire.
“It would have been nice to have played more and therefore been more successful at international cricket but umpiring is another way of experiencing our great game while my cricketing background has helped me immensely in my umpiring career,” he observed.
“It has been a fascinating journey so far as I have been privileged to be part of a very strong, committed and professional group of umpires. And to stand in matches that feature the best cricketers of this era, is something I love and thoroughly enjoy,” the Sri Lankan umpire added.
He was inducted into the elite panel along with Steve Davis of Australia in April 2008 after having previously served on the panel between 2002 and 2004. While de Silva has umpired in 12 Tests and 24 ODIs since his return to the panel, Davis is just six ODIs away from becoming the fourth Australian and 13th overall to stand in 100 ODIs.
Rudi Koertsen of South Africa holds the distinction of having umpired in the highest number of ODIs (202) while Steve Bucknor of the West Indies stood in 181 ODIs. The late David Shepherd of England is next on the list having umpired in 172 games.
The Australian duo of Daryl Harper (161) and Simon Taufel (147) is expected to complete double century in not distant future as does Billy Bowden of New Zealand having already stood in 141 ODIs.
Australia’s Darrell Hair performed duties in 139 ODIs with Pakistan’s Aleem Dar not very far behind having umpired in 127 one-dayers. Russell Tiffin of Zimbabwe (111), David Orchard of South Africa (107) and Steve Dunn of New Zealand (100) had also completed century of ODIs as an umpire before de Silva did it earlier this year.