Pakistan umpire Asad Rauf is no more but his controversial career will not be forgotten

Former cricket umpire Asad Rauf of Pakistan passed away due to a cardiac arrest on Thursday in Lahore where he was running a business. He was 66 years old and had been unwell for a few days before his heart beat stopped thus bringing his life’s journey to an end.

It is always a sad event whenever a member of the sports fraternity passes away. The Pakistan Cricket Board president Ramiz Raja issued a message of condolence and many cricket fans expressed their sorrow on the social media. In his younger days, Asad Rauf had been a good batsman before he took up umpiring.

In any sport, umpires have to be strictly impartial for the contest to be really honest. But we often forget that umpires are human too. Their feelings sometimes get in the way of their decision making on the field. In the case of Asad Rauf, the weakness stemmed from a temptation for money. In 2013, he was accused of being involved in match fixing during the IPL tournament of that season.

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Fans may recall the scandal hit IPL season of 2013 when some players as well as Gurunath Meiyappan, representative of Chennai Super Kings and son in law of BCCI President N. Srinivasan, were implicated in spot fixing.
When the IPL was in progress, based on strong suspicions, the Mumbai police tapped the phone of Vindu Dara Singh (son of the famous wrestler cum actor Dara Singh) and recorded a conversation between him and umpire Asad Rauf. The transcript of the conversation as released by the police was published in the Times of India in 2013.
This is how it went:
Asad Rauf to Vindu: Do you know my birthday is coming up ?
Vindu Dara Singh: Asadbhai, don’t worry, we will take care of it. I will convey the message to Pawanbhai.” (Pawan was a bookie).

Pawan to Vindu: I am sending a watch worth Rs 6 lakh and a gold chain for Asad through Prem Taneja (another bookie) in Delhi. Please ask Asad to collect it from Delhi.

According to the Times of India report, the police said that in another conversation, Rauf can be heard requesting Pawan to send the bill for the gold chain or else Rauf would have problems with the customs department. The bills for this package as well as two other gift parcels sent later for Rauf were seized by the Mumbai police’s crime branch. The items were sent by bookie Prem Taneja to Rauf from Delhi airport’s cargo section. However, the umpire got a hint that the police were tracking him and had fled from India without his gift parcels barely a day before Vindu Dara Singh was arrested and charged.

Rauf was named as a “wanted accused” in the Mumbai Police’s charge-sheet after he had left India even as the Mumbai Police wanted to question him in person.

When the news broke that an umpire was under investigation for match fixing, it created a worldwide sensation. The ICC withdrew him from the list of umpires who had been designated to officiate in the ICC Champions trophy later that year. The CEO of the ICC, Dave Richardson, issued a statement which read: “In the wake of reports that the Mumbai Police are conducting an investigation into Asad Rauf’s activities, we feel that it is in his best interests as well as those of the sport, that he is withdrawn from participating in the ICC Champions Trophy.

On his part, Asad Rauf denied the allegations but he steadfastly refused to visit Mumbai to clear his name and counter the charges in court.

Until this incident, Rauf had been known as a capable umpire. He made his first international appearance as an umpire in 2000, officiating in an ODI between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He was included in the Elite Panel of umpires in 2006 and officiated in 49 Tests, 98 ODIs and 23 T20 internationals. He was always alert and discharged his duties with efficiency. His co-umpires in India remember him as a man with a great sense of humour. But he ruined everything with one act of indiscretion.

The Chinese philosopher Confucius once said that a reputation takes 20 years to build. But it takes only 20 minutes to ruin all the sacrifices and hard work. Certainly that seems to have happened in the case of Asad Rauf. People may forget his good work and remember only his sins.

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