Episode 15: Talking with ICC Umpire Simon Taufel

Cricket authors (and obsessives) Peter Oborne and Richard Heller have launched a new podcast to help deprived listeners endure a world without cricket. They chat regularly about cricket topics – hoping to keep a good line and length but with occasional wides into other subjects.

Simon Taufel, for five years in a row the ICC’s Umpire of the Year and author of Finding The Gaps, is the latest guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their regular cricket podcast, joining them from Don Bradman’s home town of Bowral, NSW, Australia.

His book Finding the Gaps can be found here: bookdepository.com/author/Simon-James-Taufel

He offers unique personal insight into the role of modern umpires and match officials at the highest levels of cricket. They have become a “third team”, with responsibilities much wider than interpreting the Laws and match conditions, which makes it possible for the two playing teams to perform. He describes his intense drive for continual improved performance, and the lessons it offers for other walks of life.

Injury and chance turned him to an umpiring career at an unusually early age. When he umpired his first Test match (Australia v West Indies December 2000) he was younger than 12 of the players in both teams – an unusual world record which is likely to last, in spite of the trend for younger umpires. He contrasts the minimal pre-match preparations and later feedback for officials at that Test with those of the present day.


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Peter Oborne has been the chief political commentator for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, a maker of several documentaries and written and broadcast for many different media. He is the author of a biography of Basil D’Oliveira and of Wounded Tiger, a history of Pakistan cricket, both of which won major awards.

Richard Heller was a long-serving humorous columnist on The Mail on Sunday and more briefly, on The Times. He worked in the movie business in the United States and the UK, including a brief engagement on a motion picture called Cycle Sluts Versus The Zombie Ghouls. He is the author of two cricket-themed novels A Tale of Ten Wickets and The Network. He appeared in two Mastermind finals: in the first his special subject was the life of Sir Gary Sobers.

Jointly, he and Peter produced White On Green, celebrating the drama of Pakistan cricket, including the true story of the team which lost a first-class match by an innings and 851 runs.

Peter and Richard have played cricket with and against each other for a variety of social sides, including Parliament’s team, the Lords and Commons, and in over twenty countries including India, Pakistan, the United States, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Australia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Morocco.

The Podcast was produced by Bridget Osborne and James Willcocks at The Chiswick Calendar.