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Simon Taufel, in an interview with Sanjay Manjrekar on Tuesday, revealed that the 2011 World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan was the toughest game he’d umpired, due to the sheer enormity of the occasion. Taufel further revealed why the concept of neutral umpires came into existence.
The 2011 World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan in Mohali was a celebration of the highest order, for not only did it feature two fierce rivals, who were at the peak of their powers, go toe-to-toe with each other, but it also had the stage perfectly set, with plenty of big names, including the Prime Ministers of both countries, in attendance.
The two teams, in front of a packed Mohali crowd, gave it everything they had and much to the joy of the supporters in the stadium, it was the home side that came out on top at the end, with India downing Pakistan by a 29-run margin.
Very few cricket matches have since matched the frenzy provided by that particular encounter and reflecting on that particular contest, legendary umpire Simon Taufel, who officiated in that game, revealed that it was undoubtedly the toughest encounter he had ever umpired, due to the sheer madness and chaos that surrounded the match.
“India vs Pakistan in Mohali 2011 World Cup was the toughest game of my life. It had everything – there were the two Prime Ministers present, there were bollywood stars, everyone wanted to be there and everyone tuned into the television, the hotel was mad, the journey to the ground was chaotic and it was just a game of cricket,” Taufel told Sanjay Manjrekar in ESPN Cricinfo’s Videocast.
“And it’s funny when we talk about this game, everything inside the rope seems to be pretty simple and normal, but all the stuff outside the rope tends to be complicated and not simple.”
Having started umpiring in international cricket in the year of 2000, Taufel, early in his career, saw a major change being implemented by the ICC – the introduction of neutral umpires. The rule is set to be temporarily compromised due to COVID-19 complications, but speaking about why the rule exists, the 49-year-old umpire stated that it has been implemented in order to take the bias off the table. Taufel insisted that it was important that people always talked about the decision and not about the person behind the decision.
“Whenever we talked about neutral umpires at the ICC Cricket Committee, it was all about taking the perception of bias off the table. And whenever we talk about decision making in the game of cricket, if we’re not talking about where the umpire has come from, that’s a good thing.
“If we’re talking about the decision and not the person, then that’s a good thing. Whenever we start clouding that discussion around neutrality and favouritism, we’re back to where we started 20 odd years ago.”
The 49-year-old, who last officiated an international game in 2012, however, attested that in his career, he never came across a single umpire who gave biased decisions.
“In my career I have never seen an umpire who is a cheat or giving deliberate favourable decisions.”
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