Former Pakistan cricketer Aleem Dar is all set to break Steve Bucknor’s record of most Test matches as an umpire during the upcoming opening Test of the three-match series between Australia and New Zealand, beginning December 12 at Optus Stadium, Perth.
The 51-year-old, who took up umpiring after a decade of playing first-class cricket in Pakistan, will stand in his 129th Test match as an on-field umpire since making his debut in Dhaka in 2003 during England’s tour of Bangladesh.
Starting his international career in 2000 during Pakistan’s home ODI series against Sri Lanka, Dar has officiated in 207 One-Day Internationals and is only two matches short of the record of 209 matches in that format held by South Africa's Rudi Koertzen.
Besides this, Dar has also officiated in 46 Twenty20 Internationals.
Reflecting on his milestone of officiating in 129 Tests, Dar said that Steve Bucknor was his idol and, therefore, it is truly an amazing feeling to achieve the feat.
“This is one milestone I had never thought of when I began my umpiring career. It is a truly amazing feeling and a high point of my life when I take the field here in Australia; thousands of miles from where I started my international career at home in Gujranwala," the International Cricket Council (ICC) quoted Dar as saying.
“Steve Bucknor was my idol and it is only sinking in now that I will have officiated in more Test matches than him. In the nearly two decades of my international career, I have had the good fortune of watching some memorable matches and achievements like Brian Lara’s Test knock of 400 not out and South Africa’s epic chase of Australia’s score of 434 in an ODI in Johannesburg in 2006."
“It has been a long journey that would not have been possible without the support of my family. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them as well as the International Cricket Council and the Pakistan Cricket Board for giving me the chances I got. I am also thankful to all my colleague match officials for their support over the years. I am committed to doing my best in the coming years and taking on more challenges," the Pakistan umpire concluded.
Meanwhile, Adrian Griffith, ICC Senior Manager Umpires and Referees, said that Dar is one of the most dedicated and consistent umpires and that he congratulates him on achieving the milestone and wish him best of luck for the match.
“Aleem has been a dedicated and consistent umpire over the years. He has been a member of the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Umpires for over 15 years standing across formats with distinction," he said.
“I congratulate Aleem on this milestone and wish him all the best for the game. It is not easy officiating in this modern day of intense scrutiny, but I am sure with his dedication he will continue to move umpiring forward in the years to come," Griffith added.