December 9, 2011

Umpires

The umpire strikes back

Jayaditya Gupta

Those watching Australia’s pre-Test nets at the Bellerive Oval on Thursday could have been forgiven for think Waqar Younis was giving the Australian batsmen a workout. It was in fact umpire Aleem Dar, a dead ringer for former Pakistan fast bowler, who was sending down a few fast ones at Michael Clarke and David Warner. You could call it an unequal battle, given the fact that Dar is third umpire for the Test, and he was treated with due deference – Warner even curbing his instincts to pull the couple of bouncers he received.

Dar, officially the world’s best umpire, is more than a Sunday bowler. He bowled legspin in a 12-year first-class career in Pakistan and has a full-fledged Astroturf nets on the roof of his house. But bowling in the Australia nets is possibly tempting fate, the rate at which Aussie bowlers are getting crocked - there could be a strong temptation to pull in a Waqar lookalike and hope for the best.

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Jayaditya Gupta is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo in India

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