“Don’t let the long hair and neat shades fool you, he’s always been a shady fellow. But a fun character,” a former Pakistan Railways teammate of discarded ICC elite panel umpire Asad Rauf said. That teammate is said to be a close friend of Rauf. He is understandably in a state of shock. “When I say shady, I don’t mean only in a bad way. If these allegations are true, I am shocked. I know that his wife and family will be equally shocked,” he added.
Rauf played first-class cricket for Lahore, National Bank and Railways over a career that spanned 14 years. He first umpired in an international match in February 2000, alongside old Lahore teammate and friend, now an award-winning ICC umpire, Aleem Dar.
“Asad played cricket and travelled with him (Dar) for so many years. It’s a shame he (Asad) didn’t learn any discipline from him,” a senior Pakistan journalist said.
Rauf officiated in 43 Tests, 150 ODIs and 18 T20Is and was included on the elite list of ICC umpires in 2006. Only 10 ICC umpires have the jurisdiction to stand in Test matches. Rauf is one of them.
Those who played cricket with Rauf claim he was a likeable character, but Pakistan’s media took a particular liking for him following allegations last year that he demanded sexual favours from a Mumbai-based model.
At the time, Rauf said many fans, including women, wanted to meet and take photos with people like him. "A few pictures don't mean I had an affair with her," he had said. ICC never grilled him on the issue, discarded the allegations since there was no FIR filed by Mumbai Police.
Sarfaraz Nawaz, who captained Rauf for close to 10 years for Railways and Lahore, feels Rauf is a victim of greed. “When you are getting expensive gifts, doubts are bound to arise. I played so many Test matches for Pakistan, but have never received any gifts. When he got involved in the controversy with the model, there should have been an enquiry by both PCB and ICC. Instead, they just let him continue. ICC was scared that one of their elite umpires could be a crook. It was a cover up,” he told HT.
In April this year, the PCB suspended international umpire Nadeem Ghauri for four years for agreeing to “extend undue favours for material gain” following a TV sting in India. Domestic umpire Anis Siddiqui was also banned for three years. Nawaz revealed that Rauf organised a benefit match for himself while playing for local English club. “More than anything, this is a defeat for the ICC. How can a member of the elite panel be corrupt (if allegations are proven right)?,” added the former bowler.
BCCI behind ouster of Rauf from ICC elite panel?
The Indian cricket board could have played a part in Asad Rauf’s ouster from ICC’s elite panel of umpires. “With former ICC anti-corruption chief Ravi Sawani joining the BCCI, some information has been passed on. “BCCI is also under pressure to share information with the police. Sawani must have been aware of Rauf’s wrongdoings,” a highly placed source told HT.
Rauf’s connections with Bollywood cannot be ignored. Last year, the Lahore-based umpire told a Pakistan news channel that he shared “good relations with people in Bollywood” and was trying to recommend Mumbai-based model Leena Kapoor for a role in hit reality show Big Boss. Rauf has been a regular on Indian shores since the onset of the Indian domestic league.