Pakistan’s world-class umpire Aleem Dar has pushed for the incorporation of technology in cricket and has urged umpires around the world not to feel ashamed working under it.
Dar, who stood out due to his umpiring excellence during the recently concluded World Cup, had none of his decisions overturned by the Decision Review System (DRS).
“I wasn’t competing with technology or letting it get to my head,” said Dar while talking to reporters at his residence. “I think when you let the use of technology affect you, it backfires and may even hamper your decision-making process. I never felt the extra pressure due to the DRS and gave the on-field decisions to the best of my ability.
“Umpiring in Asian countries (India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh) is very difficult as it’s very tough to judge due to excessive spinning tracks and due to a lot of noise around the ground. It requires extremely high concentration till the impact of the ball. So the key is to keep your eyes on the ball.”
Dar, the recipient of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Umpire of the Year award for two years running, was flawless throughout the 14-team showpiece event. His decisions were challenged eight times, but the use of technology went in vein as Dar’s judgment proved right each time.
“I understand that Hawk-Eye just gives approximately 70 to 80 per cent correct results,” said Dar when asked about the Hawk-Eye’s ability to judge spinners’ hidden deliveries. “Despite the fact that technology has been questioned several times by the commentators, Hawk-Eye and other technology have been accepted by numerous cricketers and that’s a good sign.
“However, I must add that it should be used with some precaution on subcontinent pitches as the ball gets excessive spin and because of the variations in pitches. But on the whole, it helps to have technology.”
Dar retired from first-class cricket to take up a career in umpiring and made his debut as an ICC international umpire in 2000. He won two consecutive ICC Umpire of the Year awards in 2009 and 2010, after being nominated twice in 2005 and 2006. However, the 42-year-old now looks to take a break in order to spend time with family.
“The biggest challenge in my job is to stay away from my family for long,” added Dar. “This is something which I feel is the tough part of my career as I’m very close to my family and I miss them a lot during the long tours. I aim to umpire till the age of 65 but I’ll probably retire after the next World Cup.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2011.