‘We would all like to see cricket return to Pakistan’
COLOMBO: Umpire Simon Taufel, who retires after Sunday’s World Twenty20 final, said a terror attack that killed eight people in 2009 had left a profound impact on both cricket and him as a person.
The machine-gun and grenade attack, which wounded seven Sri Lankan players on their way to play a Test in Lahore’s Gaddafi stadium, shocked the cricketing world and brought an end to foreign tours of Pakistan.
“It (the incident) did change me personally and did change cricket. I think my family is happy seeing me sitting here. It was a difficult telephone call which I had with my wife that day.”
Taufel, 41, is set to bow out after officiating the final of the World Twenty20 between Sri Lanka and the West Indies here on Sunday, following an illustrious career that saw him adjudged best umpire from 2004 to 2008.
The Australian stood in 74 Tests and 174 one-day internationals since his debut in 1999.
The elite-panel umpire said the March 2009 attacks increased the security level in international cricket, but hoped that the sport would return to Pakistan soon.
“We all would like cricket to be played in Pakistan sooner than later. It’s certainly a place I have fond memories of and of the people and cricket played there. I have officiated a lot in Pakistan.
“It is important that we learn from experiences and we learnt a lot from that. The cricket that we see today is different, the security level we see these days for players, officials and venues, is more and people are more aware of those potential problems now.
“It’s part of the reason that I am moving to a different role,” Taufel added, as he prepares to takes over as the International Cricket Council (ICC) umpire performance and training manager.
Taufel, who admitted to having “butterflies” before big matches, picked out last year’s World Cup semi-final clash between India and Pakistan, attended by the prime ministers of both countries, as being among his career highlights.
“Getting through Shane Warne and (Muttiah) Muralitharan for 25 plus overs in Tests have been amazing,” he said, referring to the two leading wicket-takers in Test cricket who have both since retired.
ICC chief executive David Richardson praised Taufel as one of the greatest.
“I can say without any hesitation that Simon raised the bar considerably. If one day we have a Hall of Fame of umpires I am sure that Simon will be one of the firsts to be inducted,” said Richardson.