Melbourne, Dec 21: Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar was roundly criticised for his howler of a decision when he gave struggling Australian opener Matthew Hayden out caught and bowled during the first cricket Test against South Africa in Perth.
Dar raised his finger when Hayden prodded forward to Dale Steyn and the ball popped back to the bowler. Television replays showed the ball had clearly thudded into Hayden`s pad, going nowhere near his broad blade.
Richie Benaud, who was commentating, described it as one of the most shocking umpiring howlers of modern times.
"That was one of the more astonishing decisions I have ever seen," Benaud was quoted as saying by an Australia daily.
The newspaper said Dar`s decision could have effectively ended the broad-shouldered Australian opener`s career.
"Umpire Aleem Dar lifted his finger and effectively poked it through Matthew Hayden`s bleeding heart in the disgraceful blunder that may have ended a great Test career. Thousands of Australians stood incredulous in front of their televisions. Everyone from mere mortals to cricket greats were left in disbelief," it said.
"The staggering blunder left Hayden`s extraordinary 8524-run Test career in danger of being extinguished as the big Queenslander now has just 48 Test runs at 9.6 this summer.
The furious Perth crowd vented their anger at Dar -- the man who seems never to have a hair out of place -- as resounding boos rang across the WACA while Hayden wandered off in disgust.
"He (Dar) must face the sack after this latest botch-up," the newspaper said of Dar who was one of the umpires who stood during the farcical scenes of Australia`s World Cup final win in the West Indies last year.