One hundred and seventy. That’s the number of international games Asad Rauf umpired in from 2000 to 2013. This included 49 Tests, 98 ODIs and 23 T20Is. He was part of the elite panel of ICC umpires. In 2022 though, the same Asad Rauf now runs a shop in Landa Bazaar, Lahore and has no interest in the game anymore.
“Nahi, maine saari umar jab khud hi khila diye toh ab dekhna kisko hai (No, I’ve umpired in so many games all my life, there’s no one left to see now),” responded the 66-year old in a recent interview to a Pakistani news channel, Paktv.tv when asked if he had been keeping up with the sport these days.
“Maine 2013 ke baad cricket se bilkul hi…..kyunki mai jo kaam chhodta hu usko chhod hi deta hu (I haven’t been in touch with the game since 2013, because once I leave something I leave it completely).”
Rauf was banned by the BCCI in 2016 for five years after its disciplinary committee found him guilty of corrupt practices and bringing the game into disrepute after he was accused of having accepted expensive gifts from bookies and for his involvement in a match fixing controversy during IPL 2013.
“I have spent my best time in IPL, apart from these issues that came later on,” he said.
“Unse mera toh koi lena dena tha hi nahi, wo unhi (BCCI) ki taraf se aaye aur unhone hi decision le liye (I had nothing to do with these issues, the allegations came from the BCCI’s side and they took the decision on me themselves).”
In 2012, Rauf was also in the news for accusations of sexual exploitation from a Mumbai based model, who claimed that she had an affair with the Pakistan umpire that was prolonged because of the latter’s promise of getting married on which he later backed out. Rauf, who had denied the allegations ten years ago, stood his ground when asked of the same.
“Ladki waala maamla jab aaya tha, toh mai to uske agle saal bhi IPL krwane gaya tha (Even after the allegations from the girl, I had umpired in the IPL next season),” Rauf said.
Rauf says his umpiring career began as a result of the ICC asking the Pakistan Cricket Board CEO, Majid Khan to improve the umpiring standards coming from Pakistan, which were frustrating for other teams, by introducing cricketers and educated personnel to the system. A career that spiraled downwards after his name surfaced among those who were alleged of corrupt practices during the infamous sixth edition of IPL. On his off field relations however, Rauf only said that the players, and even their partners enjoyed his company.
“Meri aadat hi hai aisi, jolly mood, ki players, even unki begumaat bhi meri company ke liye har waqat taiyaar rehti hai ki Asad bhai aapki company mai bada enjoy krte hai (I have this habit, to be of jolly mood, that the players, even their wives, are always ready to be accompanied by me saying, ‘Asad Bhai, we enjoy your company’),” the 66-year old said.
Asad Rauf, the shop owner
The Landa Bazar in Lahore is famous for providing cheap and affordable clothing, shoes, and other goods. Quite a few shops are known for providing exchange or selling options of second hand goods.
Rauf, who has his own shop racked up to the top with clothing and shoes, says he isn’t doing the work to satisfy his own needs but that of his staff.
“Bhai, ye mera kaam nahi hai, ye mere staff ki rozi lagi hui hai, ye mai unke liye krta hu (This isn’t for me, this is the daily wages of my staff, I work for them),” he said.
“I have no greed. I have seen a lot of money, and I have seen the world, with protocol. One of my sons is a special child. The other one has just come back from America (US) after completing his graduation. I read the Namaz five times a day. My wife reads the Namaz five times a day.”
“Meri aadat hai, jis kaam ko shuru karta hu uski peak pe jaata hu. Maine landai ka kaam shuru kiya hai, iski bhi peak pe mai gaya hu. Maine cricket kheli hai toh iski bhi peak pe mai gaya hu. Aur phir maine umpiring shuru ki, toh maine socha ki iski bhi peak pe hi jaana chahiye (It is my habit to reach the peak of whatever work I do. I started work as a shopkeeper, I have reached its peak. I played cricket, I reached the peak. And then when I started out as an umpire, I said to myself that I need to reach the peak here as well),” said the former ICC elite panel umpire.