Australia`s World Cup loss is Taufel`s gain
Mumbai: Defending champions Australia`s World Cup debacle came as a blessing in disguise for at least one Australian -- umpire Simon Taufel, who will finally get a chance to officiate in a World Cup final.
Taufel won five consecutive ICC Umpire of the Year but Australia`s three consecutive world titles -- in 1999, 2003 and 2007 -- denied the 40-year-old former first-class cricketer the chance to officiate in the summit clash of the game`s showpiece event due to ICC`s neutral umpires` rule.
But with Ricky Ponting`s men failing to clear the quarter-final hurdle this time around, Taufel has finally realised his cherished dream.
Along with Aleem Dar of Pakistan, he will be officiating the final of the ongoing World Cup between India and Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium here on Saturday.
"The Australian team`s success in the World Cup over a long period of time has been to the detriment of Simon Taufel who has never been able to officiate in a World Cup Final," Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said.
"It`s fantastic to see him get this opportunity," he added.
Before starting his umpiring career, Taufel was a medium-fast bowler and had also played junior cricket for New South Wales.
However, a back injury forced him to give up playing cricket and turn to umpiring. Initially, Taufel was reluctant to become an umpire and only after a lot of persuasion, he agreed to go along with a friend for an umpiring course.
After he passed the subsequent exam he began umpiring grade cricket and quickly progressed through the ranks to make his first-class debut in 1995 at the age of 24.
Taufel made his umpiring debut in One-Day Internationals (ODI) in 1999 at the age of 28 and four years later he was selected to officiate in his first World Cup in South Africa.
Due to his cool temperament in the middle and accuracy, Taufel not only earned the respect of international cricketers quickly but is also one of the most liked umpires in ICC elite panel.