Former ‘Umpire of the year’ Simon Taufel VARy confident of tech influence on sport
Simon Taufel has spent the better part of a decade in the middle of cricket grounds, umpiring the game as it evolved from Test match rapture to one-day thriller to T20 phenom.
As an international cricket umpire, Taufel has been to India on more than the odd occasion and has been part of some of the greatest cricket matches history now has on record.
Sitting atop the Trump Towers in Pune on Wednesday, on a nation-wide tour for his book ‘Finding The Gaps’, courtesy 100MB, a digital platform backed by Sachin Tendulkar and created by JetSynthesys, Taufel is not too concerned about the influence technology is having on modern sport.
To a question on the video assistant referee (VAR) in football meeting with several challenges, he says, “Football is going through same technology challenges cricket went through when it started to introduce third umpires and DRS (decision review system).”
“We nearly had 10 years to get used to DRS and football is at the early stage of getting VAR to be effective. They are going to face the same challenges we had. All will be short-term challenges which will be overcome soon,” Taufel believes.
Taufel, from Australia, is regarded as one of the most respected voices in international cricket and took the advice of Kiwi cricket legend Jeff Crowe to write a book about his time as an umpire.
“I penned the chapters many years ago and it really did not take off as I was officiating cricket matches at the time. Now I have finished that part of my journey and got the opportunity to complete the project,” says Taufel.
“The third umpire’s job is the hardest, but there is nothing like being in the centre. It is the best seat of the house. Enjoying the action, walking out of the field and there is not a better feeling in the world after a long day in the filed, walking into the umpires’ changing room and taking of your boots,” adds Taufel.
Curious case of Sri Lankan bowlers
When asked about which bowlers made him “work the hardest”, while standing on umpiring duties at the non striker’s end, Taufel lists a number of Sri Lankan bowlers – Lasith Malinga, Suraj Randiv, Rangana Herath.
“Malinga, who let the ball go right in front of you, or Randiv standing at a certain position, or Herath standing right up to the stumps and then he bowls behind you... you need adapt to all the different styles and be able to cope with it. I would go back to my preparations and actually do net sessions with some players,” says Taufel.
Simon Taufel, the umpire
1999 to 2012
74 Test matches
Nominated as ICC Umpire of the Year for five consecutive years between 2004-2008.