Simon Taufel, the Australian umpire ranked the best in the world over the past four years, has revealed he could walk away from the game when his contract expires on March 31.
The news would be a huge blow to the ICC, with the spotlight on umpiring standards burning more fiercely than ever. Last month, Steve Bucknor was in the eye of another storm when the ICC removed him from officiating in Australia's series against India. And yesterday, during the fourth match of the CB Series, Rudi Koertzen gave Adam Gilchrist out lbw despite the left-hander edging the ball.
Taufel, ranked No.1 in the world by the ICC, is only 37 but is already growing weary at the constant travelling his job demands. "After [March 31] I am on the open market," he told the Daily Telegraph. "I am taking it year by year. It's important to spend time with my family, spend more time with my kids. I am always looking for new opportunities, not necessarily umpiring.
"There is lots of room for improvement with training and support at the ICC level. It's challenging. The difference between us and the players is we don't have a home series as such. That makes it harder. There are fewer opportunities for us. How do you balance that with hobbies and family life and celebrating anniversaries?"
In the past two weeks, Gilchrist and Shane Bond have ended their international careers but will appear in the Indian Premier League and the Indian Cricket League respectively, attracted by huge salaries for a relatively short period of work. Taufel, too, isn't ruling out the IPL who, according to the Daily Telegraph, are set to make him an offer.