The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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How Taufel became exceptional

It appears not only Australian cricketers are the best. Their umpires have gone from one-eyed red-neckery — who once went through a six-Test Ashes series without granting England a single leg-before — to being the finest in the world.

Not Daryl Harper, who had a poor game at Trent Bridge even allowing for the number of appeals that a treacherous surface generated. However, Darrell Hair had an excellent game in the circumstances while Simon Taufel, the 32-year-old stand-in at Headingley, is rapidly establishing himself as the best of all.

England’s first impression of Taufel was unfavourable because he was the TV umpire who gave a couple of highly debated decisions against them in 1998-99. But subsequently he has become an exceptional umpire, as England found during the NatWest Series as well as here at Headingley.

Usually, the best umpires have been former first-class cricketers but Taufel is one of the exceptions. He was a grade player in Sydney and managed a printing company before he joined the Emirates elite panel of international umpires in April. He brings managerial skills and is said to be very thorough in his preparations.

Taufel could even be the prototype of umpires of the future. He is as young as the players and almost as fit. The degree of physical fitness demanded of umpires now is not what it was when David Shepherd began his avuncular career. Cricket Australia have a training programme for umpires and Taufel adds his own warm-up routines.

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