Mark Taylor is the best captain I have seen: Simon Taufel

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Kolkata: He needs no introduction, does he? As part of the ICC Elite Umpire Panel, his record stands impeccable. And a five-time winner of the ICC Umpire of the Year Award, Australian Simon Taufel is revered and acclaimed as one of the best the game of cricket has ever seen.

And the man showed his erudite side during an interactive session at the Techno India University on Thursday evening. He spoke extensively about leadership and what it means to him. But who according to him is the best leader of the lot he has seen? It might sound surprising but he has his reasons to validate. “In my view Mark Taylor was an outstanding leader, who always put his team’s interest ahead even at the cost of his own milestones,” said the former umpire from Sydney who has officiated in 74 Tests, 174 ODIs and 34 T20Is.

As an anecdote, he talked about the 1998 Peshawar Test (between Australia and Pakistan) when Taylor unbeaten on 334 having equalled Sir Don Bradman’s record, refused to take guard the next day to give his bowlers a chance to have a go at the opponents. “That’s too me is leadership,” he said adding that he also held former Sri Lankan star Mahela Jayawardene in the highest esteem as a captain. “If the team failed, he would take the onus, but if his team won, he would give credit to his players. To me that was incredible,” said Taufel who has recently launched his book Finding the Gaps the foreward of which has been written by Sachin Tendulkar.

Coming back to captaincy, Taufel is in awe of current Indian skipper Virat Kohli. “He is somebody who would never ask his teammates to do something he wouldn’t or can’t do. Now, that’s the mark of a great leader who calls the shots from the front,” said Taufel amid applause from the audiences.

Elaborating on his experience as an umpire, Taufel said he always ensured that his co-umpire at the other end felt at home. And he has fond memories of Kiwi umpire Billy Bowden. “He would always come into my room and see how it was. He had the best hotel, best rooms always,” Taufel informed the gathering that included a mix of students and teachers from the University.

Coming back to captaincy, Taufel is in awe of current Indian skipper Virat Kohli. “He is somebody who would never ask his teammates to do something he wouldn’t or can’t do. Now, that’s the mark of a great leader who calls the shots from the front,” said Taufel amid applause from the audiences.

Towards the end of session, Taufel had to face a barrage of questions that were expected to be answered in one lines or in other words a rapid fire round at the behest of jewellery designer Nilanjana Chakraborty. “Why are my answers too long?” he asked, but was at his wittiest best while facing the rapid fire.

“Like Virat, Sourav is a passionate man, he is passionate about the game and I hope he can take his passion to BCCI. He is also a decision maker and will make decisions to get things done,” said Taufel.

Rahul Dravid to him was stubborn with the bat. Anil Kumble was foul mouthed. MS Dhoni was all about composure. Steve Waugh was one of the toughest cricketers on the field, but one of the most generous off it. “Sachin to me is not the God of Indian cricket, but he deserves respect for his longevity, capability and humility,” he said adding that Virat to him is a complex personality, but he is always driven by the passion to prove something.

Taufel was in Kolkata, a day before history will be scripted at the Eden Gardens tomorrow with India’s inaugural day-night Test and one couldn’t let him go without seeking his views on the Prince of Calcutta, Sourav Ganguly, who deserves kudos for taking this initiative to bolster the spirit of the five-day format by getting India to agree to play under the lights.

“Like Virat, Sourav is a passionate man, he is passionate about the game and I hope he can take his passion to BCCI. He is also a decision maker and will make decisions to get things done,” said Taufel whose first international match as an official was an ODI between Australia and Sri Lanka way back in 1999 at Sydney and his debut in Test was the Boxing Day match involving Australia and West Indies at Melbourne in 2000.

And before winding up the session, he put it honestly. “As BCCI president, Sourav will be judged by his actions.” And we couldn’t agree more.

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