January 2002: Features - Best of 2001

Zen master in a white coat

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.