Taufel on officiating 2011 WC final: ‘The fireworks had me ducking for cover’

Simon Taufel, one of the two on-field umpires – alongside Aleem Dar – relived the magic of April 2, 2011 World Cup final in Mumbai, and spoke of his experience of officiating in an India-Pakistan semifinal and more.

Simon Taufel says he has never seen such pure emotions and happiness from players and fans like the night India won the World Cup in 2011.   -  M. Karunakaran

Nine years ago, on the night of April 2, 28 years after it first won the ODI World Cup, India won its second title, beating Sri Lanka by six wickets at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.

Sportstar caught up with Simon Taufel, one of the two on-field umpires – alongside Aleem Dar – who relived the magic of that night, and spoke of his experience of officiating in an India-Pakistan semifinal and more.

READ| Rub of green: Mumbai CA to ensure iconic Maidan grounds maintain their sheen

What was the mood right before the final in Mumbai?

As you could imagine, there was a lot of interest and hype in a cricket World Cup final involving the host nation. Most of the TV channels covered the game news and it was becoming a case of paralysis by analysis. I think I watched something like Nat Geo (National Geographic channel) and Animal Planet to keep my mind off the cricket until we had to leave for the game. Getting to the match was hard too – our bus could not make a right-hand turn into the street where the ground was as it had been blocked off, so we kept driving and I thought we were headed for the airport at one stage - we just kept on driving. We soon were able to make a U-turn and head back. The queues of people waiting to get into the ground were long – some must have been close to a kilometre long! The colours, flags, hats and chanting were something else – a very happy crowd.

“Most of the TV channels covered the game news and it was becoming a case of paralysis by analysis. I think I watched something like Nat Geo (National Geographic channel) and Animal Planet to keep my mind off the cricket.” - Simon Taufel

What was your initial reaction when M. S. Dhoni hit that six over long-on to win the World Cup?

Dhoni came in and played one of the best innings I had seen under pressure – he was unlucky not to score a century, but he got his side home with a huge six to win the game and the CWC – I have never seen such pure emotion and happiness after the match from the players and fans. The fireworks had me ducking for cover as well as the players, who were diving for souvenir stumps! It was a relief to enter the safety of the umpires’ room and sit and collect my thoughts. The match officials were part of the post-match ceremony and it was a nice gesture by the crowd to give us a cheer as we went up to collect our medals. What a day, what a game, and everyone seemed to be in a really good mood except the Sri Lankans and their fans.

Yuvraj Singh and M.S. Dhoni celebrate the end of India's 28-year-old wait for World Cup success at Wankhede on April 2, 2011.   -  Getty Images

 

And how was the experience of officiating in the semifinal between India and Pakistan at Mohali?

This match was seen by most as being the real CWC final – arch-rival nations up against each other. However, the politicians were using it as an opportunity to “smoke the peace pipe” and build relations again after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. Both the Prime Ministers were in attendance and we got to shake hands in a pre-match meet-and-greet. There were also all kinds of entertainers and high-profile businesspeople in attendance, with over 50 private aircraft landing before the match. It was a game of cricket that was watched by more people than any other in history.

READ| For IPL 2020, to be, or not to be, that is the question

As far as the game was concerned, Pakistan appeared to be a little defensive in their chase and lost a wicket every time they seemed to get some momentum. With every wicket taken, the Indian crowd became more vocal and no one was leaving early. All five India bowlers took two wickets and celebrated hard. With 30 required off the last over and only one wicket in hand, the celebrations started and did not stop for several hours. From my perspective, it was just a great feeling to get off the field with no major incidents or issues especially given the security concerns surrounding the match.

How was the journey from Mohali to Mumbai, the venue of the final?

After the match, it was hard to wind down. We left the hotel just before lunch for the chartered flight to Mumbai. This two-hour plane trip saw Billy Bowden take on Ranjan Madugalle with one too many practical jokes with his toy water pistol. The end result was that Billy wore a container of pickle across his travel shirt with Rod (Tucker) and I narrowly getting missed in the crossfire between seats. We arrived at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai after getting through a copious amount of traffic from the airport. It was a weird feeling to be going back to the place of the 2008 terrorist attack where over 170 people lost their lives. The hotel was great and the staff were excellent in looking after us – the only drawback was the number of supporters both inside and outside the hotel – just amazing.

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.

  Dugout videos