Simon Taufel’s Finding the Gaps is a guide for people from all walks of life on what is required to unlock one’s potential and achieve excellence in their respective fields. The book sheds light on why the Australian was rightly regarded as the best cricket umpire in the game — he was named the International Cricket Council umpire of the year for five successive years between 2004 and 2008.
Since his retirement in 2012, Taufel has expanded his horizons to leadership training and development to help businesses and institutions. In his book, he has drawn on his experiences from high-pressure match situations and transferred that into the development of an individual.
The chapters ‘The game begins before the game begins’ and ‘Results through routines’ outline what set Taufel apart from his peers during his best years. His pre-match routine on non-match days looked like this.
“1) Wake up at 5.30 a.m., 2) Gym or pool session with stretch and warm-down (60 minutes), 3) Breakfast, 4) 6 Laws of cricket to summarise (40 minutes) – plus do one Laws exam in the month, 5) Review playing conditions for next match (30 minutes) and 6) Online eye gym training (15 minutes).”
His preparation was akin to a modern athlete’s training routine.
His methods for effective leadership and different leadership styles are well researched, having watched the likes of Virat Kohli, Mahela Jayawardene, Gary Kirsten and Allan Border, among others, and having discussions with them on the topic.
Taufel also lists out interesting techniques in managing conflict and handling pressure in high-stakes environments. In the former case, he discusses in detail how he managed the unusual dismissal of Pakistan’s Inzamam-ul-Haq when he was given out for obstructing the field against India in Peshawar.
But nothing could have prepared him for when he was caught in the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team’s bus in Lahore in 2009. In the first chapter of the book, Taufel gives a harrowing account of his near-death experience when he and his colleagues were sitting ducks to rapid gunfire.
On our television sets, Taufel comes across as a steely-faced official, but through this chapter, he lays his emotions bare after having escaped the scene.
At the end of each chapter, Taufel summarises his teachings into bullet points for the readers to take home the key lessons. His methods will appeal to any reader who wants to bring structure and discipline in both his personal and professional lives.
For hardcore cricket fanatics, the earlier chapters could be somewhat monotonous, but Taufel puts across his points with match situations that could be transferable skills.
There are a few typos while a statistic is contradicted in two different pages. There is a theme of repetition in different chapters, eliminating which would have made it for a sharper read.
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