Taufel abandons cautious instincts as mistakes pile up

Simon Taufel, who hails from Sydney, is one of the most highly regarded umpires in the world, but he has had a match at Trent Bridge that he will want to forget. On the first two days of this Third Test he confirmed his reputation of being an umpire who is reluctant to give batsmen out, which, generally speaking, is the accepted practice these days.

Simon Taufel, who hails from Sydney, is one of the most highly regarded umpires in the world, but he has had a match at Trent Bridge that he will want to forget. On the first two days of this Third Test he confirmed his reputation of being an umpire who is reluctant to give batsmen out, which, generally speaking, is the accepted practice these days.

Then, on the third morning, Graham Thorpe tried to flick a ball from James Franklin down the legside. The ball went through to Brendon McCullum who, together with the slips, appealed extravagantly for a catch. With the batsman turning his back on the umpire as he plays this particular stroke, it is not the easiest of decisions for the official.

For all that, Taufel's finger was up almost before the appeal had finished, suggesting that there was not the faintest shadow of doubt in the umpire's mind. Thorpe hesitated long enough to make it clear what he thought and the replays showed that the ball had touched Thorpe's trousers and not the bat on its way through.

Being an experienced umpire, it will not have taken Taufel long to realise that he had made a bad decision. It was now that his confidence will have begun to erode. The decision will have played on his mind and, as a result, it precipitated some more questionable decisions.

When Stephen Fleming was hit on the pad playing no stroke at Andrew Flintoff, Taufel raised his finger. This was a marginal decision and it was surprising that an umpire who is at heart a "not-outer" should have given Fleming out. The replay suggested the ball was too high and there should surely have been some doubt in the umpire's mind.

In Flintoff's next over Tauffel again raised his finger when Flintoff hit Nathan Astle on the pad with one the replay said would have just brushed leg stump. This was another surprise from a not-outer. Then just before the close he gave Scott Styris out caught behind when he flashed at a wide one from Steve Harmison that he clearly missed.

His confidence must have been shattered after all this and on the fourth morning Andrew Strauss became the victim of a third dreadful decision from Tauffel when he was given lbw to a ball which clearly pitched outside the leg stump. One bad match does not make him a bad umpire, but he will be glad to hang up his white coat for a bit.

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