Simon James Arnold Taufel
January 21, 1971, St Leonards, Sydney, New South Wales
In a field where middle-age has been the norm, it was a supreme vote of confidence that Simon Taufel was asked to umpire his first Test at 29. Over the next decade, he repaid that faith by being named the ICC's Umpire of the Year every year from 2004 to 2008. His rise was so rapid that he quickly became one of the most experienced officials on the Elite Panel, despite being by far its youngest member. But that heavy workload also took its toll on Taufel, who in 2008 said he wanted to spend more time with his wife and children and was taking his cricket future "year by year". Respected by the players for his consistently accurate decision-making, Taufel stood in three World Cups and earned the chance to officiate in the 2011 final, when Australia failed to reach the decider for the first time in five World Cups. A calm and confident official who worked hard on his fitness, Taufel developed while on the international scene. When he first arrived he hunched over as the bowler let fly, lowering his eyeline like umpires of old. That habit disappeared as Taufel's self-assurance increased, although his concentration did not wane.
His early entry into the umpiring ranks came after his playing career stalled due to a back injury. A promising fast bowler, in 1988-89 Taufel took the new ball in a New South Wales schoolboys' representative team captained by Michael Slater with Adam Gilchrist behind the stumps. He played for the North Sydney and Mosman clubs before first officiating in fifth-grade games at 20. Taufel was 27 when he stood in his first ODI, a match where his old team-mate Gilchrist scored a century, and 29 when his Test debut came in the 2000 Boxing Day match. Occasional internationals followed while he worked as the operations manager in a printing firm, and in 2003 he was added to the ICC's Elite Panel, where he and the New Zealander Billy Bowden were viewed as the next generation of umpires. In 2012, Taufel retired at the age of 41, deciding to spend more time at home with his family. He also took up the newly-created role of umpire performance and training manager with the ICC.
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