Whenever there is a discussion about cricket, we talk about the best batsmen, the best bowlers, and the best fielders of different generations and different teams or players of the same position in the same team.
However, we often forget that there are some other people in the game too who toil as hard as the players do but do not get enough credit for their role in the game.
Yes, we are talking about the umpires. Ever dreamt of a match without any umpire? Any umpire out of position? No, they cannot afford to focus anywhere else at any time during the game.
They cannot move as much as the players do, they cannot converse with the fans, and in fact, it's the umpires who have the most difficult job of delivering with their decisions, decisions that may hurt many and at the same time bring joy for others.
With every format and also the advancement in technologies, officiating the game has become less stressful than it used to but with the introduction of the DRS system (Decision Review System), the umpires are under the radar as soon as they commit an error that may be lapsed by a second or a moment.
Accuracy of decision is one thing but the fact that the umpires carry out the same tasks with the same or better efficiency throughout their careers is something that makes a good umpire great.
Thus, Cricwizz presents a list of five umpires who have not only been sound with their decisions but have also stood their ground for a long time.
1) Aleem Dar (Pakistan)
Aleem Dar, a leg spinner of his time (1980s-90s) played 17 first-class matches and 18 List A games before he chose to step on the field as an umpire in the year 2000.
His first match or umpiring debut you may say came in an ODI match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Gujranwala, the place where he was born and bred.
"You cannot allow one decision to reflect on the rest of your game."
The above statement is not only correct but it also depicts how fallacies in judgments could hit very deep in your mind, thereby affecting your decisions in the future.
Aleem Dar is first in the list of most matches as an umpire with a staggering record of 211 ODIs and 136 test matches, a total of 347 matches and counting!
He is an integral part of the elite panel of the ICC umpires and he was also adjudged as the Umpire of the Year in three consecutive years (2009, 2010, and 2011).
2) RE Koertzen (South Africa)
Born in Knysna in the West Cape, South Africa, Rudolf Eric Koertzen played cricket and also worked as a clerk for the South African railways.
Commencing his umpiring career in 1981, Koertzen was known for his slowly rising finger and was also involved in some match-fixing crisis, but he was never convicted and always came out clean.
Koertzen officiated in 209 ODIs and 108 Test matches, and the numbers could've been more but his failure to interpret the rules regarding bad light in the World Cup final in Barbados in 2007 led to his suspension for the T20 World Cup that was scheduled later that year.
3) SA Bucknor (West Indies)
Bucknor, the Jamaican was a football player in his early ages before he became an umpire in 1989. His first game as an umpire was an ODI between West Indies and India in Jamaica.
What sets him apart from a lot of the other umpires is that Bucknor was appointed as the Umpire for the 1992 World Cup, and later, he also officiated in the finals. He then went on to become the umpire of the next four World Cup finals (1996, 1999, 2003, and 2007) as well.
Bucknor stood as an umpire in 181 ODIs and 128 Tests and was also a member of the elite panel of ICC umpires right from its foundation until his retirement.
Bucknor was also held responsible for the misinterpretation of the light rules as he permitted the final to continue in inappropriate visibility.
4) BF Bowden (New Zealand)
Brent Fraser Bowden or "Billy" Bowden as we all remember him was not the first Kiwi to make everyone fall in love with the game of cricket.
Known for his peculiar yet entertaining style, Bowden's on-field decision gestures caught everyone's eyes and his "crooked finger" dismissals abruptly became every child's go-to style, making a trend of its own.
Bowden entered into the field of umpiring due to getting affected by arthritis at a very young age. Bowden began umpiring in the year 1994 and made decisions worth remembering in 200 ODIs and 84 Tests.
His last match as an official was in Wellington in 2016 when New Zealand played Australia in a One Day International.
5) DJ Harper (Australia)
Daryl John Harper officiated in 174 ODIs and 95 Test matches. He was also a member of ICC's Elite Panel of Umpires from 2002 and 2011.
He commenced his umpiring career at Perth in 1994 when New Zealand played South Africa. However, Harper also had some ups and downs in his career as an umpire and one of such moments occurred in 2010 when England registered a complaint against the umpire for a wrong caught behind decision due to various factors playing a role in that error. He was then dropped from the 2010 ICC World T20 panel and was also demoted from the elites panel of the umpires in 2011.
After a controversial test game between India and West Indies, Harper retired after he was subjected to criticism by various players in the Indian dugout.
With a number of umpires now joining the panel, few umpires remain to be in the spotlight with their astonishing ability to make quick and reliable decisions. Who among these umpires do you think is the best?