They are calling him Mr. 100%! No no…. come on people, please grow up. Not every Pakistan-related article with a percentage sign has to be about a certain well-known politician who will remain nameless!
I’m talking about our star of the cricket world cup. Wrong again! Not Kamran Akmal. In fact I’m talking about….*drum roll*….. Aleem Dar!
The serene, calm and calculating umpire is a two time ICC ‘Umpire of the Year’ Award winner and the first Pakistani umpire to become a part of the ICC elite umpire panel.
Being a cricket-crazy nation, everything related to cricket is sacred to us Pakistanis and any achievement in the field is hailed aloud. And I say why not! It’s not easy for an umpire to win the ICC Umpire of the year award TWICE consecutively and also get nominated for it four times.
Aleem Dar – The Finger Pointing Maestro
It was a bright sunny day, the 6th of June of 1968 to be precise. On this day, a child was born who would grow up to have the power to throw legendary cricketers off the field using a single finger. Alright! Perhaps not as dramatic as that, but you have to admit that Aleem Dars’ rise to fame is exemplary.
Although Aleem is best known for his umpiring, he started off in the world of cricket as a player. He strove hard for a place in the Pakistan National Cricket team but failed and retired after 10 years as a first class cricketer, having played 17 matches.
Sad? Don’t be. His experience as a first class cricketer is, in my view, the thing that finally catapulted him to a standing amongst umpiring legends.
The first ODI that Aleem Dar officiated was at Gujranwala. This was in the year 2000 and the teams playing were Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
He became a member of the ICC’s International Panel of umpires just two years later, in 2002. He displayed exceptional talent and within the span of one year was appointed to officiate the grandest of all ICC events, the cricket world cup in 2003.
Progress and achievements fell in line one by one and as quickly as they could be dished out. In the same year (2003) he was appointed to officiate a test match; his first, between England and Bangladesh. Six months down the line he had stood in several test matches and was appointed as a neutral umpire for ODI matches away from Pakistan.
Wait, there’s more! Aleem Dar is also one of only 10 world class umpires to have reached the milestone of officiating 100 ODIs and holds the record for achieving the feat in the shortest time, just seven years.
He has had numerous high profile matches to his name including a test match between England and South Africa at the Centurion, where he was given death threats (*GULP*). To top it all off, our little maestro has been one of the on-field umpires for some of the following finals:
- 2006 ICC Champions Trophy
- 2007 World Cup
- 2010 ICC World Twenty20
- 2011 World Cup
So you still think I was exaggerating when I called him a maestro?
There was however one Indian-movie-like incident in Mr. Dar’s career when in the final of the 2007 Cricket world cup he and fellow umpires did not know the playing conditions with respect to the match results under the Duckworth-Lewis system. Australia was mistakenly asked to bowl three extra overs in near darkness, which was ruled as unnecessary. Aleem was suspended along with his four colleagues: Steve Bucknor, Billy Bowden, Rudi Koertzen and Jeff Crowe.
Not to worry mates, our Pakistani “munda” came back with a bang and was again asked to stand in the 2011 ICC final between Sri Lanka and India.
Some thought that the new Decision Review System (DRS) would expose the flaws in modern day on-field umpiring. Some said this is a make or break for umpires and suggested that in the future, there is a possibility of a complete hijack by the DRS.
It was man against machine and our man won. Hurray!! Our wicket zapping Dar had 57 reviews taken against his decisions. You guessed it, none and I mean NONE were overturned. And you thought that the 100% meant that he had somehow siphoned off 100% of the ICC’s revenues ;).
2011 has been a great year for Aleem Dar, and I am very hopeful that this year, just like the previous two, our Mr. 100% will again receive the ICC umpire of the year award and make us proud!