Asad departs

September 25, 2022

Along with Aleem Dar, Asad Rauf improved the reputation of Pakistani umpires at the international level

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Umpiring is one of the toughest tasks in international cricket. Players are never satisfied with umpires' decisions when they go against them. The television umpire watches slow-motion replays from different angles and several times before giving his judgment, but the umpire standing in the field has to give a verdict from a distance of more than 22 yards and that too immediately after the ball has been delivered.

Pakistani umpires Aleem Dar, Khizer Hayat, Shakoor Rana, Javed Akhtar, Saleem Badar and Asad Rauf earned a great name in domestic and international umpiring.

On September 15, cricket fans heard sad news that former ICC elite panel Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf passed away following a cardiac arrest in Lahore. He was 66.

In his 13-year career as an umpire, Asad officiated 64 Tests -- 49 as on-field umpire and 15 as TV umpire, 139 ODIs and 28 T20Is.

His umpiring career started in 1998. In 2000, he supervised his first ODI match.

Asad, a former Pakistani cricketer, took up umpiring after the ICC asked the Pakistan Cricket Board's then CEO, Majid Khan, to improve the umpiring standards.

Along with Aleem Dar, Asad improved the reputation of Pakistani umpires.

Asad was one of the most prominent figures in the mid-2000s when it came to umpiring. He was on the ICC's ODI panel in 2004 and was elevated to the ICC's elite panel in 2006, just a year after his Test match debut.

He remained a member of the ICC Elite Umpire Panel till 2013, and supervised 2007 and 2011 World Cup matches and the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Before becoming an official umpire, Asad played 71 first-class matches for National Bank and Pakistan Railways as a middle-order batsman. He scored 3,423 runs, averaging 28.76, hitting three centuries and 22 fifties. He also played 40 List A matches, scoring 611 runs.

Asad's career as an umpire ended controversially as he was named in a spot-fixing probe during the Indian Premier League 2013.

He had to leave India midway through that IPL season and was also withdrawn from the Champions Trophy. In 2016, he was handed a five-year ban by the BCCI on four charges of corruption. Later that year, the ICC dropped Asad from its elite panel.

Asad categorically denied all claims and said that he had a judge's verdict which found him innocent. The former umpire claimed innocence throughout and expressed willingness to cooperate with the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit.

After the incident, he said: "I am answerable to ICC and not to the BCCI; if the BCCI wanted to lodge a one-sided case against me in India then that's on them. Because as far as I am concerned, the ICC never took charge of the situation because there was no truth to these allegations to begin with."

The PCB distanced itself from Asad after the IPL controversy. Then PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf said: "The PCB has no link with Asad since he was doing the IPL duty on the instructions of the ICC. We don't know what his crime is but we did receive an e-mail from the ICC informing us about Asad's withdrawal from the Champions Trophy. However, no reason for this action was mentioned by the ICC."

In an interview, Asad said that he had completely stopped following the game and had not been in touch with cricket since 2013.

A private channel discovered Asad in a shop in Landa Bazaar, Lahore. Asad said that he had been in the old clothes business for a long time. He called it one of the leading import businesses. He said that he was in that business to satisfy the needs of his staff, not for himself. He also mentioned that he sold not only clothes and shoes but also antiques.

"My lifestyle is very simple. I have no greed. I have seen a lot of money, and I have seen the world with protocol. One of my sons is a special child. The other one has just come back from the US after completing his graduation. Me and my wife say prayers five times a day and are satisfied with our life," he said.

Recalling his first profit in the import business, he said it was more than five salaries that he got while playing cricket.

Asad is no more with us, but he will be remembered by cricket lovers for a long time.

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