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Simon Taufel reveals the prerequisites of an umpire: Keen eyesight, strong back, good stamina

Acute senses aren’t the only attributes needed to officiate in cricket matches.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Dec 05, 2019, 07.24 PM IST
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Presenting a united front, Simon Taufel says, becomes more important than ever.
Presenting a united front, Simon Taufel says, becomes more important than ever.
To err is human. Men in panama hats are not exception. “Umpires are human beings too. We can also make mistakes,” said five-time ICC Umpire of the Year winner Simon Taufel at an event in Mumbai. Every time a crooked index finger is raised on the cricket pitch, aggrieved players train their guns on the man in the middle. Fans rally behind their team. Video replays are beamed on the jumbotron. The match official is either vindicated, or made to face the firing squad. In a game of fine margins, a guilty conscience is the umpire’s burden.

“If you get a decision wrong, and say, Virat Kohli comes up to you in the umpires’ dressing room, you need to manage the issue first, and then the person. He’s an aggressive captain - very competitive, very assertive, and that makes it all the more challenging,” said Taufel, who underlined the importance of froideur in defusing potentially volatile encounters with irate captains.

Taufel added that such players are likely to bait umpires by making comments about their credibility and competence - a ploy that often results in a clash of personalities. He reckons that effective communication can help maintain the balance of power in the dressing room, irrespective of minor indiscretions by all parties.

“You’ve got to ask Virat: what’s your problem, what’s the issue – the decision or the fact that you are losing the game? Are you frustrated about a number of things? Put the ball back in his court. So you are practically telling him: let’s focus on the issue here. A really good technique to do this is to use the right language,” Taufel added.

Simon Taufel has been well served by abiding by his own domestic philosophy, having successfully negotiated tantrums thrown by many high profile players during his illustrious career.
Simon Taufel has been well served by abiding by his own domestic philosophy, having successfully negotiated tantrums thrown by many high profile players during his illustrious career.


Keen eyesight, a strong back, and good stamina are prerequisites to qualify as an umpire. But acute senses aren’t the only attributes needed to officiate in cricket matches. “Most of you have wives at home. Has your wife or partner ever accused of listening too much? Listening is a very good thing. And if it is at the end of the day, let them talk more, till they reach a point where they don’t want to talk anymore,” Taufel said.

The Australian umpire has been well served by abiding by his own domestic philosophy, having successfully negotiated tantrums thrown by many high profile players during his illustrious career. “When someone like Virat Kohli is talking to you in that context, let him talk. Use that time to build a compelling defence as to why you think he is wrong.

“If it is on the field, you don’t have time for all that. I understand you have a problem. We understand you are upset, but we can’t sort this one out right now.

But what we will do is to talk about it later. Can we move on?”

Argumentative players are also given to driving a wedge between the two on-field umpires to prove their point, especially if the two officials do not agree on a call. Presenting a united front, he says, becomes more important than ever.

“Using ‘we’ language is very important. Sometimes, when you do that when you are shoulder to shoulder, that’s power, because he will try to divide and conquer. He’ll ask the other umpire and see if he gets the same response. And because it is a person of that stature, he is going to try and use his personality. You just have to have a working relationship with them. You don’t have to be their friend,” Taufel said.

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A Bad Boy With A Good Heart

5 Nov, 2019
It was in the year 2011 during India’s tour of Australia that Virat Kohli had an intense verbal duel with the Aussie all-rounder Shane Watson. Sure, Aussies are known for their provoking nature but Virat’s hot-headed temperament did not help the cause either. The fight got so intense that Captain Ricky Ponting had to pull Virat out of the argument.There is no denying that there have been plenty of instances of the Indian skipper getting aggressive on-field, be it him sparring with cricketer Gautam Gambhir during IPL 2013, or hurling abuses at Pakistani bowlers at the Asia Cup in 2012.But, as the years passed, we saw Kohli grow up and become a kind-hearted, responsible man. Fast forward to 2019, our favourite cricketer is now a good Samaritan who respects boundaries and has the courage to speak up for the right. As the cricketer turns 31, we take a look back at some of the instances when Virat behaved like a true blue gentleman and won the hearts of all Indians.
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