England in South Africa 2004-05 January 30, 2005

Umpires received death threats, reveals Bucknor

Cricinfo staff

Steve Bucknor: unfazed by the threats © Getty Images

Steve Bucknor has revealed that both he and Aleem Dar received death threats on the last day of England's final Test against South Africa at Centurion. Bucknor and Dar were the two umpires for that game.

According to London's Sunday Telegraph, Bucknor stated that the threat came through a phone call made to the chief executive's office at SuperSport Park during the final day's play. "I was told that the threat came towards the end of the last day. I'm not sure if Aleem realised it was against him as well, but I was told that the words the caller used were 'We are going to get rid of Aleem Dar and Steve Bucknor, we are going to shoot them'," Bucknor said. "You get lots of abuse as an umpire, but that is the first time that I have been threatened to that extent. I briefly thought about cutting short my stay and going home to the Caribbean, but I convinced myself that I am stronger than that. If umpires react to threats like that, then there will be a flood of them.

"I have to say that I am not really worried about it - the words were serious, but I'm not sure whether the person who said them was serious - I'm certain it was just a hoax call," Bucknor continued. "Also, I grew up in a part of Jamaica where threats are a daily occurrence, and I refereed football matches in Jamaica where you get threatened all the time - although it was never this extreme. Nevertheless, it's not been a pleasant couple of days."

Bucknor has already officiated in 99 Tests, but his performance during the series came in for criticism from some of the players and the media. Michael Vaughan, the England captain, was especially vocal about the umpires' interpretation of the playing conditions during the fourth Test at Johannesburg, while South Africa believe that plenty of decisions went against them during the recent series. Dar has returned to Pakistan after the Tests, but Bucknor is still in South Africa and will officiate in the one-day series as well.