Aleem Dar is second to none — well, in terms of officiating international cricket duels. See the lists that this umpiring genius from Pakistan has topped during his 20-year-long career so far. Dar holds the record of having umpired the most number of Test matches, 132, surpassing the respected Jamaican professional, Steve Bucknor. When Dar stood in his 210th ODI, for a Pakistan vs Zimbabwe game in Rawalpindi last Sunday, he went past South African Rudi Koertzen on officiating most international one-dayers. Adding 45 T20Is under his belt to his tally of 132 Tests and 210 ODIs, he leads the pack having supervised 387 international matches.
Dar is calm and composed — one of the foremost traits of an umpire that enables him to handle pressure on the field, especially in crunch situations when even commentators and spectators are sweating in their hands, let alone the players. His gentlemanly conduct both on and off the field, it is said, makes him an admirable and honourable character. But on top of that, it is his hardwork, his practice that has made him a perfect decision-maker and a consistent performer. Media reports say that he used to stand at the wicket to master the understanding of the ball movement during Pakistan cricket team’s practice sessions. This is why his decisions have stood the test of technology, unlike in case of most of his counterparts. It’s common these days to see decisions taken by field umpires getting overturned by third umpires on being judged through hotspots, snickos or trackers, but very rarely has a decision by Dar been disputed by these gadgets.
No wonder the 52-year-old has clinched a hat-trick of ICC Umpire of the Year awards, beating a highly respected Simon Taufel of Australia all these years. Dar is indeed the elitist member of the ICC Elite Panel of Umpires. He is the Pride of Pakistan and an inspiration for the younger generations in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2020.