Birthday special: Simon Taufel – One of the finest umpires of all time

Arguably the finest umpire in cricket history, Simon Taufel celebrates his 51st birthday on Friday (January 21) and birthday wishes are pouring in for him from different quarters. Born in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, Taufel was known for his phenomenal accuracy and ability to make difficult decisions look easy. Not many players and teams were successful after taking DRS (Decision Review System) against Taufel’s decision.

Notably, Taufel was a fast bowler during his playing days and represented Cammeray Cricket Club in the Northern Suburbs Cricket Association. He finished the 1990-91 season as the leading wicket-taker with the lowest bowling average. While Taufel looked set to go a long way with his pace bowling, destiny had other plans. He had to leave his cricketing career due to a back injury.

Umpiring wasn’t Simon Taufel’s first love

In an interaction with ESPNCricinfo, Taufel revealed that one of his friends suggested him to join an umpiring course. He wasn’t interested in umpiring initially but later took it very seriously and eventually passed the exam. After studying umpiring for seven years and officiating on numerous domestic matches, Taufel received a contract from Cricket Australia to stand in representative cricket in 1998.

Taufel’s first assignment in international cricket came on January 13, 1999.  It was an ODI match between Australia and Sri Lanka in Sydney. The umpire didn’t look back since then and made one accurate decision after another. ICC announced the umpire-of-the-year awards in 2004 and Taufel bagged the honour in the first five years.

Taufel also received the ICC’s Bronze Bails Award for officiating in 100 ODIs. He was the youngest umpire to have achieved this feat. Interestingly, Taufel had to wait a long time to accomplish his dream of standing in an ODI Cricket World Cup final. This is because neutral umpires are needed for the summit game and Australia qualified for the finals in the 1999, 2003 and 2007 editions.

However, the Men in Yellow couldn’t replicate their heroics in the 2011 World Cup and Taufel officiated in the final game between India and Sri Lanka. His last match as an umpire was the final of the 2012 T20 Cricket World Cup between Sri Lanka and the West Indies.