Shakoor Rana: An Umpire Who Will Always Be Remembered

More Than Just Matches Officiated

Shakoor Rana, a Pakistani umpire who officiated in 18 Tests and 22 ODIs, will always be remembered in cricket history.

However, his legacy is not defined by the number of matches he umpired, but rather by a single, highly controversial incident.

The Faisalabad Test: A Spark That Ignited Controversy

In 1987, during the Faisalabad Test against England, Rana became embroiled in a heated argument with England captain Mike Gatting.

This debate, which led to a stoppage of play, is considered one of the most talked-about incidents in cricket history.

A Missed Reunion and Lingering Disappointment

In 2000, when England toured Pakistan for the first time since the 1987 incident, Shakoor Rana met with English cricketers, officials, and journalists.

The incident resurfaced in the media, and Rana expressed disappointment that Mike Gatting was not part of the touring team.

The controversy was even compared to the infamous Bodyline series of 1932–33, highlighting its lasting impact.

Tensions Rise: Fallout from a Previous Tour

English cricket experts believe that the controversial umpiring of the 1987 series was a result of the disappointment of Pakistan’s earlier tour of England.

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Then Pakistan had requested that David Content and Ken Palmer should not be made umpires but England did not agree. There were many other controversies over umpiring.

After the first Test of the series played after the 1987 World Cup, Mike Gatting had clearly said that 9 wrong decisions of the umpires were responsible for his team’s defeat by an innings and 87 runs.

England were not happy with Shakoor Rana being made the umpire for the second Test in Faisalabad but they could not do anything

The Boiling Point: A Disputed Fielding Change

With only a few minutes left in the second day’s play, Gatting asked David Keppel to come closer to deep square leg to prevent batsman Salim Malik from taking a run off a ball from Eddie Hemmings.

By then the batsman was ready to play the ball and Hemmings had started his run up to bowl the ball.

Mike Gatting and Shakoor Rana Altercation

Shakoor Rana immediately stopped play and said that Gatting was changing the fielder’s position even though the batsman was ready to play the ball.

The argument escalated and both could not control themselves. The game stopped there.

Escalation and Resolution: A Standoff and an Apology

The next day Rana refused to continue the match until Gatting apologized. With neither side backing down initially, the game was halted.

Finally, through pressure from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and a written apology from Gatting, the situation was resolved.

It’s believed that Pakistan captain Javed Miandad may have played a role in instigating Rana’s stance.

A Lasting Legacy: Captured by the Lens

The incident was captured by photographer Graham Morris, whose picture of the confrontation between Rana and Gatting became iconic.

This photo holds a similar place in cricket history as the image of the last ball of the tied Test of 1960-61.

Beyond the Controversy: Shakoor Rana’s Cricket Roots

While the Faisalabad Test overshadows his career, Shakoor Rana also had a playing career as a right-handed batsman and fast bowler.

He played 11 first-class matches for teams like Railways, Lahore, and Punjab.

His umpiring debut came in the 1974–75 Lahore Test against West Indies. Interestingly, his two brothers, Shafqat and Azmat Rana, also played Test cricket, while another brother, Sultan Rana Jr., became a cricket administrator.

The Cost of the Clash: A Career Cut Short

Unfortunately, the controversy significantly impacted Shakoor Rana’s umpiring career. Despite Gatting playing in many more Tests, Rana only received opportunities to umpire in two more Tests after the incident.

Conclusion: A Controversial Legacy

Shakoor Rana’s legacy is a complex one. While he is remembered for his fiery on-field clash with Mike Gatting, he was also a cricketer and an umpire with a prior career.

The Faisalabad Test incident undoubtedly overshadows his achievements, but it also serves as a reminder of the importance of sportsmanship and fair play.

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