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Anecdotes, tributes and insights from an umpire-raconteur
By Shirin Sadikot
Bengaluru 25 April 2012
Some of cricket’s best stories come from the umpires. As someone who is smack in the middle of all the action, an umpire is arguably the person most involved in the game. And when the man in question is a raconteur like Asad Rauf, the stories are not just intense but also colourful and entertaining. From the effects of IPL on international cricket to amusing on-field anecdotes, Asad Rauf takes iplt20.com on a delightful journey through his world.
‘T20 is slow’
People don’t understand this but T20 is in fact slow for the umpires. In this format very few decisions come to the on-field umpires and the ones that do come to us are usually straightforward. The bowlers generally bowl a bit wide of the off-stump which is relaxing for the umpires.
The IPL experience
Coming to India is different [from visiting other countries]. I believe the people of India have very good knowledge about cricket and hence they appreciate the role of the umpires more. The kind of atmosphere that we see during the IPL isn’t seen anywhere else. Close to 40,000 people shouting in the stands, cheering for their team – I think no one experiences that better than the on-field umpires who are right in the middle of all the action. Adversaries turned friends
When you play for one team you develop a fellow-feeling for each other. I really like what the IPL has done in this aspect – players from different countries playing for each other and bonding well.
The kind of shots that batsmen play these days, we’re seriously thinking of demanding protective gear for the umpires. Very few people think about this but even the umpires have to work hard to maintain a standard of fitness. If the players have to play for six hours, we too have to stand for the same time on the field. In modern times we have to work a bit harder on that aspect. Leader extraordinaire
Being on the field, I can sense how much pressure the captain is under. The most important thing for a captain is to be cool. I think [MS] Dhoni is best in that regard. I also like [Virender] Sehwag’s captaincy. Both these men are very cool which helps them make better decisions. One of the secrets behind CSK’s success over the past seasons is Dhoni’s coolness and in this tournament I’ve seen the same with Sehwag.
Billy does a helicopter
Everyone has his own style; I too have my own style of signalling a six. But Billy Bowden has this peculiar style which cannot be matched by anyone. He goes a little over the top. When he’s in form, he does all kinds of crazy things.
Once after an IPL game that he officiated, he came up to me and asked, ‘Asad, did you see the helicopter on the ground’? When I said no, he told me to watch the highlights of the match. I watched it and there was a no-ball signalled by him that went for a four. He signalled it and then went round in circles in the way that the [propeller] of a helicopter turns. I laughed like crazy and told him that it was a bit too much.
Working in pairs
I share a good rapport with Aleem Dar. One reason for that could be that both of us hail from Lahore and have played for the same club. We also made our umpiring debut in ODIs together. We share a great understanding. We also help each other a lot while on the field. Even generally, I try to maintain a good rapport with my fellow on-field umpire in terms of interacting with him and helping him. Umpiring is team work. In case of wrong decisions, people will say the umpiring was bad; they won’t name a particular umpire.
Friend, philosopher and guide
I really respect Steve Bucknor. He once told me ‘Asad, I have a feeling that you will be included in the ICC’s Elite Panel very soon’. Six months later, I was part of the panel. He is my mentor and my coach. I have learnt so much from him since I started my career.
Thankless job? Not anymore
Earlier an umpire’s role was taken for granted but now that has changed. Cricket coverage has improved so much and with the awareness spread by the media about the sport, everyone has realised the toughness of the on-field umpires’ job. People acknowledge that sometimes they cannot make the right decision even after watching the replay six times. An umpire makes the same decision in a fraction of a second.
Tale of the missing umpire
During a Test of India’s tour in West Indies in 2006, Irfan Pathan appealed for the run-out of Brian Lara. The players turned to square-leg umpire Billy Doctrove but he was not found there. The players then turned to the cover-point region but still couldn’t spot the umpire. That was a hilarious situation and everyone laughed their guts off. Finally, Doctrove was spotted near the sight-screen fixing a problem that Lara had complained of. He didn’t think it was necessary to inform anyone, not even me. That was an incident I will not forget.
The good that came out of the funny situation was that a cricketing law came to the fore. The players insisted that I refer the decision to the third umpire; I refused saying, ‘According to the law, I’m not in a position to do that’. Just then I recalled a law that says that if an umpire is not at his position when the ball is bowled, it is not a legal delivery, and I signalled a dead ball. Thankfully, Lara had made his ground. Had he been run-out, there would have been a lot of furore over it. The biggest ‘Tests’
The most challenging game for me was the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne in 2006 between Australia and South Africa – the top two teams. It was only my third Test as an umpire. I was sent for this Test by the ICC when no one really knew me. That was the most memorable day of my umpiring career and it was the match with which my career took off. Before that I had officiated in two Tests between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. My appointment was in India for the next match but they cancelled it and sent me to Australia. I got my confidence from that match. Steve Bucknor helped me a lot in that Test.
Then there was the 2000th Test, between India and England at Lord’s in 2011. I wasn’t supposed to officiate that Test but was called up to fill in for Mark Benson who was sick. It was also the 100th Test between the two countries. It was a memorable match for me. It was an honour that the ICC called me up. My decisions were good in that match.
KP’s ton, Gayle vs. Awana, Hussey’s stunner, Dada’s joy, AB’s power
By Arun Gopalakrishnan
Mumbai 25 April 2012
A sensational century, a blinding catch, rivetting bat vs. ball contests and ecstatic on-field celebrations – Week 3 has been all about passion, sprit and celebration. As the tournament gets into the middle stages, we bring you all the standout moments marked by fierce competition and individual brilliance. KP’s first T20 ton
Delhi Daredevils v Deccan Chargers – April 19, 2012
Delhi Daredevils would have been reasonably happy after restricting the Deccan Chargers to 157 for eight. With a strong batting line-up featuring Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene and Ross Taylor, most expected them to overhaul the target comfortably.
But things didn’t quite go according to script. Halfway into the run chase, DD were reduced to 65 for four with the pick of the batting order – except for Pietersen – back in the hutch. With DC one wicket away from taking control of the match, Pietersen stepped up. From 36 off 33 balls, the English batsman exploded to finish with an unbeaten 103 (64 balls) – he’d added 67 off 31 balls – and guided his team to a comfortable five-wicket win.
Seeing off the dangerous Dale Steyn, he got stuck into the other DC bowlers, the spinners in particular. JP Duminy was dispatched for three consecutive sixes, while Amit Mishra conceded 24 runs off ten deliveries. The next best score in the Delhi Daredevils’ innings was Yogesh Nagar’s 23!
Gayle vs. Awana
Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kings XI Punjab – April 20, 2012
On the basis of team strength, form and circumstances, RCB and KXIP were a mismatch. One was a heavyweight team with several match-winners in their line-up, while the other had lost their captain to injury and were struggling to find their best combination.
However, KXIP put on a decent show in the first half of the match when their batsmen posted 163 for six – a competitive total on the pitch. Things got better for the hosts when the relatively unknown Parvinder Awana tore into the RCB top order and reduced them to 25 for three. The 25-year-old bowled quick landed the ball in the right areas consistently, got the ball to do a few things off the surface and generated extra bounce too.
Chris Gayle dominated, as usual, unperturbed by all that was happening at the other end. He crawled to 31 off 29 balls before teeing off for his first six of the evening; he got stuck into Piyush Chawla and hit him for a flat straight six, striking ominous form.
Praveen Kumar was hit for a four and a six off consecutive deliveries, while Awana – who’d caused most of the damage earlier – was driven wide of mid off for a boundary, spanked over square leg for a six and slashed away to the point boundary. The Jamaican, who at one point had a strike-rate of 107, finished with 87 off 56 balls (strike rate of 155.35).
Awana had the last laugh when he dismissed Gayle, but the damage had already been done. RCB won the match by five wickets with three balls to spare.
Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kings XI Punjab – April 20, 2012
When the ball meets the middle of Chris Gayle’s bat, it is generally headed in one direction – over the boundary. The Jamaican had set up the game for his team with a calculated innings of 81. On the brink of victory, Gayle smashed a full delivery from Parvinder Awana through the covers. The ball would have rocketted across the fence but for a glorious bit of fielding by KXIP skipper David Hussey who dived full length to his right and pouched the ball one-handed barely inches from the ground.
The KXIP bowlers had run out of ideas on how to contain the RCB opener, and it needed a special effort to dismiss him. David Hussey came up with just that – perhaps the catch of the tournament.
Dada’s all-round show
Pune Warriors India v Delhi Daredevils – April 21, 2012
After six outings as PWI skipper, Sourav Ganguly was yet to prove that he still had it with the bat.
In the away fixture against the Delhi Daredevils, Ganguly exhibited that wild spark. It took a while for the 39-year-old to find the middle of the bat, but when he did, he ensured he did not throw it all away. He chose to play second fiddle to the explosive Jesse Ryder who was going strong at the other end and accumulated his runs in ones and twos. There were a couple of shots that stood out in the innings – a sweep that was hit so powerfully that Umpire Asad Rauf (stationed at square-leg) was hit on the hand. Next time around, facing Shahbaz Nadeem, Ganguly came down the track and smacked it straight back with immense power – and yet again Umpire Asad Rauf (this time stationed at the bowler’s end), had to duck for cover before coming down in a heap. The ball, for its part, darted away into the boundary hoardings like a missile.
The PWI skipper was dismissed for 41 (35 balls), but he was still not done. Delhi Daredevils were well in control of their run chase after Virender Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen had added 75 runs in seven overs.
It needed an inspirational moment and Ganguly delivered just that. The PWI skipper brought himself on for a bowl – for the first time in the season – and pegged back the off-stump of a well-set Pietersen with his very first delivery. An ecstatic dada then dashed across the turf of the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in celebration in a show of that old familiar passion.
That moment changed the momentum of the game – Pune Warriors India would strangle the Delhi Daredevils and go on to win by 20 runs. Ganguly would go on to pick up another wicket – that of Irfan Pathan – and the Player-of-the-Match award for his all-round performance.
Royal Challengers Bangalore v Rajasthan Royals – April 23, 2012
After being asked to take first strike, RCB’s plans fell into disarray when opener Chris Gayle reported sick minutes before the start of the innings. The team struggled with the last minute chaos and reshuffle and seemed headed nowhere. Gayle himself couldn’t do much when he walked out to bat at No. 4 – managing only four runs.
AB de Villiers walked out to bat in the twelfth over with the score reading 67 for three. The fourth ball he faced was dispatched over midwicket, the following delivery sailed even further into the stands at midwicket and RCB were up and running.
Closer to the end of the innings, de Villiers hit Kevon Cooper for a flat six over long off and then followed it up with an outrageous shot; he reverse paddled what was an attempted yorker and sent it to the point boundary. Siddharth Trivedi was at the receiving end in the following over; de Villiers muscled one over long on, improvised and sent the ball to the third-man boundary and then followed it up with a pull over the midwicket fence.
RCB, who were once looking to post a total around 150, finished with 189 for three – thanks mainly to de Villiers’ 23-ball 59. That knock would eventually be the difference between the two teams; Royal Challengers Bangalore would win by 46 runs.