Aleem Dar hits century in ODI umpiring

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Lahore, Oct 25 (UNI) Pakistani Aleem Dar became the 10th cricket umpire to stand in 100 ODIs when he officiated in the Australia vs India match in Mumbai on October 17.

Aleem has achieved the mark at the age of 39, making him second youngest to achieve the feat after Simon Taufel who completed his ton earlier this year at 35.

Aleem, a first-class middle-order batsman and wrist spinner between 1986-87 and 1997-98, has earned reputation as one of the best and most respected umpires in a short span. He was nominated for the ICC Umpire of the Year award in 2006 only to be beaten by Taufel.

Rudi Koertzen is leading a pack of umpires with most appearances in ODIs having stood so far in 182 matches.

Aleem received a plaque from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to mark his achievement in reaching 100 ODIs. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), on behalf of International Cricket Council (ICC), will also felicitate Aleem during the Multan ODI between Pakistan and South Africa tomorrow.

He made his debut as an international umpire in Gujranwala in 2000. In 2002, he was included in the ICC International Panel of Umpires and in April 2004, his excellent decision-making ability and temperament, particularly in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 in South Africa, earned him promotion to the ICC Emirates Elite Panel.

''It has been a fairy-tale ride for me,'' admits a modest Aleem in a statement.

''To officiate in 100 ODIs and 39 Tests is something like a dream come true. Completing a century of ODIs is not only an honour for me but also for Pakistan as I am the first umpire from Asia to achieve this distinction,'' he said.

''Like any youngster, I also wanted to be a Test cricketer and although I couldn't cherish my childhood ambitions because of various reasons, I find myself extremely honoured and lucky to still be an active member of the cricket fraternity.

''My lucky break came in 1998 when the Pakistan board encouraged former first-class cricketers to take up umpiring. I was not only included in the domestic panel but I got good opportunities in domestic first-class matches that provided me the platform to show that I can officiate tough games.

''I consider myself extremely lucky and fortunate to have got optimum opportunities and best support, initially from the PCB and the ICC, and later by my fellow umpires, without whose continued guidance I would not have come this far,'' he added.

Aleem admitted an umpire's job was a demanding one and believes his job is to administer the Laws and the playing conditions and to work with the participants to make sure the game is fair.

''I don't get overawed by who is bowling or batting. I just try to do the job to the best of my knowledge and ability.

''Like everyone else, I have also made mistakes and I will continue to make mistakes. But that's the name of the game, you makes mistake, learn from then and move on.

''I think today we have got a strong group of officials who have taken the game to a new level in an era where we are under more scrutiny than ever before,'' Aleem said.

''Like every umpire, I also want to be respected for my decision-making and someone who ensured that a good game was played, and with cricket the winner.'' Most appearances by umpires: Rudi Koertzen (South Africa) 182; David Shepherd (England) 172; Steve Bucknor (West Indies) 167; Daryl Harper (Australia) 141; Darrell Hair (Australia) 135; Billy Bowden (New Zealand) 120; Simon Taufel (Australia) 116; David Orchard (South Africa) 107; Steve Dunne (New Zealand) 100; Aleem Dar (Pakistan) 100 UNI

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