Wisden Asia Cricket

January 2002: Features - Best of 2001

Zen master in a white coat

Nine Tests into his career, the Sri Lankan is one of the brightest umpiring prospects around. By Sambit Bal

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Asoka De Silva: Umpire of the year

Umpiring is a lot like batting. It requires extreme concentration and application. Most significantly, you need to watch every ball. Even the greatest batsmen misread the line and length of the ball every now and then, but while their indiscretions are wiped away with one good performance, umpires are only remembered for their mistakes. It's time for justice. Steve Bucknor loomed large on the horizon, but he has been around for a while and has learned from his mistakes. But few umpires have made such a positive impression in as short a time as Asoka De Silva. Only nine Tests old, he is already among the most respected in his trade and he has age on his side.

The subcontinent poses the ultimate test for an international umpire, what with spinners operating with close-in catchers, balls popping up from bat, pad, arm-guards, everywhere and a few thousand appealers. De Silva has passed his test with a mixture of good judgment and zen-like calm. He played in only 10 Test matches, but seems destined to umpire in many more.

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Sambit Bal Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.
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