Simon Taufel's name is synonymous with accuracy and impeccable standards as the distinguished umpire seldom erred in his decisions during his illustrious career. On the field, he was calmness personified and unflappable, qualities that earned him respect from players and members of cricket fraternity.
Simon Taufel was named the umpire of the year for five years on the trot from 2004 to 2008 for his phenomenal umpiring and, after retiring in 2012, he served as a mentor for many young aspiring umpires - mainly in India - and was part of many International Cricket Council's (ICC) initiatives to lift the standards of umpiring.
He officiated in 74 Tests, 174 ODIs and 34 International Twenty20s in his illustrious career which ended after his swansong tournament—2012 ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. We caught up with Simon on LinkedIn and chatted about his career and views on many matters surrounding the game.
1. You've had a long and distinguished career as an umpire garnering many awards along the way. According to you, what has been the most challenging aspect of your job?
Managing yourself, managing relationships away from home and dealing with failures/setbacks.
2. We were accustomed to seeing you develop a good rapport with the players on the field. How important is this and did it make your job easier while officiating games?
What you give out, is invariably what you get back in return. If you can offer the other participants respect, empathy, sympathy, high standards of effort, in a professional way – then they are likely to respond similarly.
3. With passionate fans quick to lash out at certain erroneous decisions, umpiring can be considered to be a thankless job. What must then cricket fans understand in order to appreciate umpiring more?
Umpires cannot be perfect but they can be excellent. They do not go out to umpire with the ambition of ruining someone’s match. They are out there trying their best and they love the game of cricket too.
4. Excessive appealing can land players in trouble. How does this serve as a problem for the umpire and how did you cope in such instances?
The pressure from players excessively appealing only creates a problem for the umpire when the umpire lets it impact on them. When you focus on just making the decision and not the strength of the appeal, invariably you make the right call.
5. Umpiring controversies have unfortunately been part of the game. What feature of your umpiring made you stand out with a flawless career?
Firstly, my career was not flawless. It was just like everyone else’s – full of mistakes and learning opportunities. I suppose I worked pretty hard on learning as much as I could as quickly as I could so that I made fewer mistakes. I tried new things, got very selfish with my coaches/trainers and was hungry for performance improvement.
6. What specific game or series has it been for you where you felt the most pressure on you as an individual?
Perhaps it was the first ones – when you initially start out at a new level – 1st grade, 1st class, international and elite. Others don’t know you, they test you, everyone expects a lot of you to justify your elevation and you don’t want to let them or yourself down.
7. Partisan umpiring is now thought of as a thing of the past. Do you think the system of neutral umpires should be done away with as suggested by Ricky Ponting in context to the Ashes? Do you believe merit should hold supreme over designating neutral umpires?
The game comes first and if neutrality means we are not talking about where an umpire comes from when they make an error in judgement, then that is a good thing for the game. Maybe the game can take a look at the policy of neutrality between ODIs and Tests and see if maintaining a difference between the two is still the right way to go.
8. You have often spoken about introducing a strong accreditation system for umpires. How much progress do you think there has been in this regard?
The ICC introduced an accreditation system for international umpires back in 2013. It has helped benchmark standards and better prepare umpires for the demands of the role.
Umpires have been asked to demonstrate their competencies. I’m not aware that it has been updated since inception, and with the game moving on at a rapid pace, maybe there is scope for this to be addressed now.
9. Does Mankading need an official warning from the player or umpire before the actual act of dislodging the bails?
It’s a run out and if the non-striker does not want to be run out, then they should remain in their ground until the ball has been delivered – it’s as simple as that. There are no warnings given for other forms of dismissal – why should there be a warning for this one?Published 07 Sep 2020, 00:31 IST