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A is for Aleem
by Ateeq Abdul Rauf


Player:Aleem Dar


Aleem Dar - Member ICC Elite Panel of umpires
Aleem Dar: 'Pakistan's finest in a field that more often than not makes the news for all the wrong reasons' PCB
He is Pakistan's finest in a field that more often than not makes the news for all the wrong reasons. With technology being able to scrutinise umpires by virtue of super-slow-motion cameras, half-a-dozen different camera angles and tools such as 'Hawkeye' and 'Snickometer', umpiring mistakes are expounded by the cricketing public as if they were the greatest sins committed since Adam ate the forbidden apple. For many years prior to his advent into the judgemental arena of cricket umpiring, Pakistan was bereft of representation of quality umpiring at the highest level. In fact, in the early 80s and 90s, Pakistan was deemed by touring teams to be a country where home umpires allegedly 'favoured' the home team. Mike Gatting's infamous spat with Shakoor Rana exemplifies this point to the extreme. All that is now history and we now have Pakistan being represented on the ICC Elite Panel by a 36-year old from the relatively unknown quarters of a town in Punjab called Jhang. He is known as Aleem Dar.

 

Many will not know that Aleem Dar was a modest first-class cricketer with an intermittent career that spanned a decade. Perhaps even fewer would be aware that after umpiring a Test in Mumbai on November 7, 2004 he made a sparkling 82 embellished with six fours and seven sixes playing for Police 'B' against Police 'A' in a match at Mumbai Cricket Club according to a report on www.mid-day.com. However, it is the arena of umpiring where Aleem has caught the public eye. Making his debut in 2003-04, he made an immediate impression in his first two series as an umpire where on some wickedly-turning tracks, he made some outstanding decisions in England's series' with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Consequently, his perspicacious eye won him plaudits from some of the great pundits and critics of the game, namely Ian Botham, Michael Holding and Bob Willis among others. Taken into context this is quite extraordinary, since umpires are rarely appreciated for making correct decisions. Aleem has since gone on to umpire 13 Tests alongwith 41 ODIs so far.

 

Having a signature short-arm wave for signalling a boundary, a quick jerky nod of the head before raising his index finger and a trademark banded white hat, Dar is one of the shorter umpires on the panel. Ostensibly, he seems to be a quiet yet meticulous observer of the game a true gentleman, one must admit. But he showed that he doesn't hold back while implementing the laws of the game when, just recently, after apparently viewing it as a negative tactic, he wided Shane Warne for deliberately bowling defensively down the leg side.

 

Aleem Sarwar Dar played first-class and one-day cricket from 1986-87 to 1997-98 for Pakistan Railways, Lahore City, Allied Bank Limited and Gujranwala. He is a right-hand batsman and bowls occasional leg-breaks. His first-class batting average of nearly 12 in 17 matches and 11 wickets at an average of about 34 is nothing much to speak about, and neither is his subtly better List A (one-day) batting average of about 20 alongwith 15 wickets at about 32 runs apiece. He is though, still active on the playing field as he regularly plays club cricket in Lahore.

 

In umpiring, however, he is an inspiration to many like me, who have watched portions of neutral Test matches, just to see how he makes decisions. We can all wish Aleem the best of luck and hope that he will continue to perform exceptionally at the highest level at one of the toughest posts in the game today.

(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2004 Ateeq Abdul Rauf email:ateeqar@gmail.com)

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