By Varun Desai
Fifty and Out!!
The year was 2009. In one of the League matches in Brampton, Arsalan Baig fell
short of his half-century when the Umpire called “Out” and dismissed him. Baig
did not question the integrity of the Umpire, nor did he argue with him. Baig
accepted the Umpire’s decision with finite disappointment, but little did he know
that a new chapter was about to unfold in his life soon. Later, when a dissatisfied
Baig checked with the Umpire if what he(the Umpire) ‘saw’ was right, his comment
was, “Come, be an Umpire and see what it feels like.”
That was the moment of truth for Arsalan Baig, Canada’s level 3 National Umpire
and realtor from Brampton when he discovered the power within himself to steer
life in a new direction.
Hailing from Karachi, Pakistan, young Arsalan started his cricket training almost at
the same time when he began school at the age of six. Baig showed promise as an
opening batsman and as a right-arm fast bowler.
The pinnacle of Baig’s playing career came in 1992 when the twelve-year-old was included in a prestigious interschool tournament and claimed seven wickets after making his debut in leg-spin bowling.
In 1995, Baig’s family migrated to Canada. Grasping with all the struggles of a newcomer, Cricket was the only respite for Baig from life’s daily drudgeries. Baig’s credentials as a champion cricketer and team leader earned him the position of Captain in his high school.
Baig’s hunger to master Cricket was
unquenchable, and thus he went on to add
the Parkdale Cricket Club and later the Malton
Cricket Club of the T&D League to his roster.
Soon Baig flourished as an opening batsman
and a leg spinner playing in the Brampton –
Etobicoke & District Cricket League in all
formats and across Division 3 and the Premier
Division, captaining the latter.
Between 2005 and 2009, Baig took a sabbatical
from Cricket to study real estate and gain
experience by working with different realty
Inspired by the idea received from his match Umpire, in 2009, Baig joined the
Toronto Cricket Umpires’ and Scorers’ Association (TCU&SA) and completed
Cricket Canada Level 1 Exam in 2010, level 2 in 2011 and Level 3 in 2012 to
become an accredited Cricket Canada Level 3 National Umpire.
As Baig began to umpire in B-EDCL and some of the matches in the T&D League,
he realized that Umpires and Players possess different mindsets though both are
big parts of the game. While many players think that Umpires are necessary
evils, the Umpires, in reality, are like judges who do not make rules but instead
apply them.” Cricket Umpiring as a profession is extremely challenging. But if you
want to reach the highest level, you have to give your 100% to all the matches,
whether it is League Cricket, Club cricket, Junior Cricket, or big matches. And
you also have to be conversant with cricket laws, advises Baig.
The thought was to share the responsibility and bring greater good for the
community-led Baig to run for a Board Director
position in early 2010 for Brampton-Etobicoke &
District Cricket League. Soon after getting elected, Baig
was also made an Assistant Umpiring Coordinator by
the League. In 2012 after being re-elected as Board
Director and Umpiring Coordinator of BEDCL, Baig
brought a total change in the umpiring standards by
reinforcing all the ICC rules and regulations which were
not followed for many years.
“Do Your Work Every day,” Baig lives by the principle
and challenges himself to be extraordinary at every
opportunity, “It is a great honour for me to be a
Director of Canada’s Largest Cricket League B-EDCL. I
must do more for the success of Brampton- Etobicoke
& District Cricket League,” asserts Baig.
And Baig remains true to his commitment. In 2018,
Baig introduced the Mayor of Brampton, Patrick
Brown, to his President, Praim Persaud. The meeting
between the Bosses was a success as Mayor Brown
agreed to support Cricket in Brampton by bringing
about important changes like night cricket facilities,
Turf Wicket, ICC Standard Grounds, Half Inch
Grass, regular maintenance of the grounds. Baig also
attended meetings between the City of Brampton
Parks’s recreation staff and his President Praim Persaud
to design the changes required to create Brampton’s
cricket facilities. “The new facility in Brampton, with
5000+capacity, can host international cricket Canada.”
states an optimistic Baig.
With Cricket suspended all-around during Covid, times
were tough, But Arsalan Baig is the individual who does
not fear difficulties. Amid lockdown, Baig started a
television show called “Sixer with Arsalan Baig.” In his
show, Baig interviewed local and international cricketers
via zoom. Baig also covered the ICCT20 Cricket World
2021 on television from the studio.
Since 2009 Baig has umpired in all formats of Cricket.
T25, T20, T50, and many Elite Division Playoff
games, including the finals. He has been the Umpire
in the Central T20 cricket Tournament official Cricket
Ontario Tournament in 2019. He was also the Umpire
in Central T20 Tournaments, including Semi-Final and
Baig’s dreams came true in September’2021 when he
was selected to Umpire in Cricket Canada’s National T20 tournament.
“The only good mentors in life are those who love you, who think you
have the talent and who want to understand you,” says Baig with an
attitude of gratitude. Baig feels thankful for the guidance and support
he received from his seniors like Mr. Ingleton Liburd, General Manager,
Cricket Canada, who gave him the opportunity to Umpire National
T20Tournament, Mr. Shah Zafar, President Cricket Ontario, Mr. Praim
Persaud, President B-EDCL, Mr. Arnold Madella, President TCU&SA and
Mr. Azad Khan Secretary, CCUA.” They not only helped me to complete
all my certifications to be a qualified Cricket Canada Umpire, but they
also trusted me to officiate big games in Central T2O Provincial Cricket
Tournament, Cricket Canada National T20.” shares Baig.
Baig has also not forgotten the advice he had received from the match
umpire who made him out, “In B-EDCL league we are encouraging
players to supervise matches to have a feeling of how they will feel when
they Umpire matches. It is very easy to point the finger at Umpires about
their decisions, but players should learn that an Umpire’s job is to umpire
over the ball and not the player”, reiterates Baig.
Undoubtedly, Arsalan Baig is one of the successful Umpires in Canadian
Cricket, and his secrets are simple,” Fitness, empathy, humility and keeping
your ears clean and eyes sharp.”
Surely, Umpire Arsalan Baig’s