April 03, 1936, Amritsar, Punjab, India
April 09, 2001, Lahore, Punjab, (aged 65y 6d)
Right hand Bat
Right arm Medium fast
Shakoor Rana's place in cricket history will be as the umpire who was involved in the infamous slanging match with Mike Gatting which stopped the Faisalabad Test in December, 1987. The circumstances leading to the exchange are well documented, as are the consequences. Rana was a genial and popular character who came from a famous sporting family. His brothers Shafqat Rana and Azmat Rana both represented Pakistan in Tests and a third brother, Sultan Rana, became a cricket administrator and junior national selector. His two sons - Maqsood and Mansoor - also played first-class cricket. Rana himself played first-class cricket as a right-hand bat and right-arm medium-fast bowler, but his career was more stop than start and in 12 seasons he made only 11 appearances. But it was as an umpire he made his name. His debut was against the West Indies at his home town of Lahore in 1974-75 and his last Test was against New Zealand team on the same ground in 1996-97. He was a competent umpire, upright and bold in his decision making, but prone to bouts of self-importance. Before the Gatting incident, he had almost come to blows with Jeremy Coney, New Zealand's captain, over disputed decisions. But those were rare blemishes against a decent man. It is just a shame that they are what he will generally be remembered for.
Shakoor Rana, who died on April 9 six days after his 65th birthday, was cricket's most infamous umpire and, with the exception of Dickie Bird, probably the best known official in the history of the game. His furious finger-wagging exchange with Mike Gatting is among the game's most reproduced images and was even used in countries not known for their cricket, such as Germany, to make of fun of Britain's post-colonial arrogance. Shakoor took great pride in his notoriety and painstakingly pasted into his cuttings book an article from an earlier series describing him as"The World's Worst Umpire" He was far from the worst. But he could be authoritarian, temperamental and occasionally overbearing.
England's 1987-88 tour of Pakistan is still best known for his confrontation with Gatting during the second Test at Faisalabad. In the first Test the tourists had copped some dreadful decisions by Shakeel Khan; Shakoor's decisions might not have been so obviously poor, but he dismayed the England players by wearing a Pakistan sweater. When Mudassar Nazar handed him his cap, he promptly put it on his head.
The incident that made him famous came on the second day when Gaffing signalled David Capel to come in no further from deep square-leg as Eddie Hemmings moved in to bowl. Shakoor put his hand up to stop play and then accused Gatting of cheating. The following day was dominated by diplomatic efforts to produce a face-saving apology from both protagonists.
It has always been thought that it was Shakoor, egged on by Javed Miandad, who refused to back down. But Raman Subba Row, chairman of the old TCCB, has a different angle. "I did my best to broker a mutual apology," he remembers. "Shakoor actually went along with this. But Michael did not." In the end Gatting was forced to scribble a note of apology -- which Shakoor treasured so much that he kept it under his pillow. The third day's play was lost, however, and with it England's chance of squaring the series.
There was a sense that Pakistan were nursing a grievance that tour, after their objections to David Constant and Dickie Bird the previous English summer had been ignored. Then there was the interesting case of their unofficial manager Haseeb Ahsan. He toured England as an offspinner in 1962 and took five wickets in the first innings Worcester. His action, however, was questioned in the limes, he did not bow, again because of a sprained ankle, and e. sent home amid some speculation. Whe, Shakoor was appointed for the Faisalaba Test, Haseeb appeared gleeful: "England asked me not to select Shakeel. Let's see how they like Shakoor Rana."
Shakoor umpired in only three Tests a` that but could congratulate himself, in his perverse sort of way, for speeding up the introduction of neutral umpires. In all he stood in 18 Tests and 22 one-day internationals, and was involved in anothe heated exchange in 1984-85 when he turr. down an appeal against Miandad. Jeremy Coney was so incensed that he threatened lead his New Zealand side from the field.
He was an ordinary right-arm seamer and lower-order batsman who made 226 first-class runs at 12.58 and took 12 wickets at 36.41. Before England's tour last winter Shakoor described Gatting as "my favourite cricketer" He added: "I do not regret what happened. How can I regret? It made me the most famous umpire. People don't recognise me now. But when I introduce myself everyone says, 'Ah, yes, the famous umpire '' He met Gatting again in England a few years ago. "I wanted to shake his hand. He said, 'Oh God, not you again,' and drove away."
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