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The Famous Mike Gatting-Shakoor Rana Argument: An Indication of Requiring Neutral Umpire

Mike Gatting & Shakoor Rana argument is one of the craziest controversies to happen in Cricket.


A rift between two players or against the fans and match official is not the first thing one hears on the Cricket field. Quite a few times those scenes had been witnessed in the ground mostly in those old days. But, everything in life has a boundary and one has to remember not to cross the rope even in a heated conversation.

The Incident

One of the ugliest altercations to occur in the relation-ship of England & Pakistan Cricket is the argument between England captain Mike Gatting & Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana; one well known Cricket fan can truly erase the incident. It was long lusting but so unfortunate episode where two dense characters met to create a sparkle moment.

It’s quite interesting that whenever one remembers about the two countries; even though there are so many pleasant substances to look back but on a lighter note, everyone talks about the ugly accident.

The Old Incident of Pakistani Umpires

Before that very incident, the same umpire, Shakoor Rana, was having a same kind of issue against India after resuming their Cricketing ties with Pakistan. Standing in a Test match in 1978, he warned Mohinder Amarnath for not running on the danger area on his follow through. It somehow made vice-captain, Sunil Gavaskar, angry who straightaway charged Rana for allowing Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz to overstep during bowling to the Indians. Quite surprisingly, the problem got fixed given the high-profile status the tour was carrying but it made his feet wet against visiting sides.

So many years later, speaking in a commentary box, Ravi Shastri looked back at his initial tour of Pakistan in 1982-’83. “Imran and Sarfraz would make the ball swing and then there were those two umpires, Khizer Hayat and Shakoor Rana.” He expressed how well organized the whole system was of not using neutral umpires. “It was like playing a four prolonged pace attack.”

That Rana-Gatting Regrettable Beginning Episode

Perhaps something was meant to take place; otherwise, how could the exact same umpires stood during that spoken game? Before coming to the 2nd Test in Faisalabad between Pakistan and England in 1987, Rana had already grabbed the rage of Mike Gatting at Lahore after wearing a Pakistan sweater.

The incident occurred when the home side were struggling at 106-5 in the response of 292 from the visitors. Eddie Hemmings was bowling quite well and suddenly Gatting changed the field by bringing David Capel from deep square-leg to stop a single and according to the captain, all this were reported to batsman Saleem Malik but not to Umpire Rana, standing at square leg, who stopped the game accusing cheating against the visiting leader.

Lots of words were exchanged between them with some foul language being used and the whole world remained a listener of these things thanks to the stump microphone. A boiling angry Shakoor Rana refused to run the game untill an apology had been made but Gatting denied to oblige.

The Incident Went in a Blizzare Mode

At one point, Gatting declared that the square-leg umpire shouldn’t have any job involving in the game and that was why he observed zero reason to say sorry. Rana expressed one culture of his country. “In Pakistan many men have been killed for the sort of insults he threw at me; He is lucky I didn’t beat him.”

A total day got wasted. All the next incidents were happening at a rapid pace with some political matters began to include. Foreign officer and British Ambassador rushed to the place to smoothen up the Anglo-Pakistan relations. English captain Mike Gatting even after thousands of refusals were forced to write an apology. The PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) didn’t show any interest in changing the officials but they had to as England made it clear that they won’t take field if Rana officiated.

Well, it was another funny incident that came in the ears. Rana used to keep the apology of Gatting under his pillow. “I don’t regret what happened.” Rana went on to record these words. “How can I regret? It made me the most famous umpire.”

The Results of The Incidents

Gatting was removed from the leadership duties six months after; although that was due to the incident of him involving with a bar maid in hotel during a Trent Bridge Test match. Rana didn’t stand in more than three red-ball games since then. Even though, all trusted that the seeds of the old incidents had led the selectors in doing so.

But, somehow, he enjoyed all what occurred. He also told and retold the story of how Gatting sprinted out after watching him later in England. “Oh God, not you again please.” He drove away from the place.

“It wasn’t a very proud moment in my career.” Gatting later conveyed disappointment. “It’s one of those things that has gone down in history.”

Umpiring is tough but and it’s not a rocket science that they will make mistakes in the game. To be honest, the problem is not about committing errors but as a viewer, everyone should look at the umpires how they manage the game and run it in its right way.

None the less, that incident perhaps stimulated in appointing neutral umpires in that age.

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