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‘You must win fair and square’: How PM Imran Khan introduced neutral umpiring in cricket

‘You must win fair and square’: How PM Imran Khan introduced neutral umpiring in cricket

Imran Khan bats for Sussex during the summer of 1981. Photo Courtesy: espn.cric.info

 

Published in The News on Nov 09th, 2020,

Prime Minister Imran Khan was the first captain in the history of cricket to call for neutral umpiring in order to ensure impartiality and a fair shake to either team, according to a post on the premier’s Instagram account.

Posting a video on Instagram, the PM shared how cricket, dubbed as “the gentlemen’s game” lacked  neutrality as most countries would field their own umpires against touring sides.

However, changing the face of the game in 1986, the legendary all-rounder became the first to invite neutral umpires as he called Indian officials to ref the match between Pakistan and West Indies – which was the most powerful team of the time.

He then invited English umpires John Hampshire and John Holder for the home series against India in 1989-90.

Soon after, the world of cricket realised that neutral officiating was imperative to maintain the integrity of the game and finally in 1992, ICC began to field one neutral umpire per Test.

“In order to keep up the spirit of the game, what is the most essential feature? In my opinion, it is fairness. You must win the match with fairness,” the premier had said back then.

He said that he had received a lot of flak for his opinion about the importance of neutral umpiring, with the critics saying that the concept was against the dynamics of the game.

“[However], I believed that the match should always be won fairly and squarely.  Both the playing teams should have faith in the umpires appointed,” the prime minister can be seen stressing in the video.

In 2002, after PM Imran’s constant efforts to wipe out impartiality from the game, the world of cricket completely adopted neutral umpiring.

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