Well, it’s been a tough and somewhat rewarding last week here in India.
We umpired the last league match in Kolkata where the Mumbai Indians upset the hosts with a 6 off the last ball of the match to steal victory in front of 80 000 plus fans. It was such a great atmosphere on one of the world’s best cricket grounds. Dev, Shahvir and Ravi have been good company over the last few weeks in ensuring my wallet is much lighter and my stomach is much larger as they seems to be specialists in shopping and restaurants. (Not sure what Ravi has his eye on the photo below!?)
From Kolkata I headed off to Mumbai without the help and guidance of the local umpires for a change. Battling the airport crowds and queues is nothing new but having to move in tight spaces with 45kg of luggage where pushing has become an art is very different. Patience was the order of the day and mine was being tested – I managed to get to the front of the “queue” to check in, was required to pay for 20kg of “excess baggage” (as I was only allowed 20kg on my ticket), went across the hall to pay the required 3000 Rupees, back to the counter and then into the corral ahead of security checks. I was then held up with the rest of the public as the Kolkata cricket team had just turned up and they were given priority for security scanning and processing.
I joined Asad Rauf, Roshan Mahanama and Paul Reiffel in Mumbai for the first two play off games. Chennai beat Bangalore to advance straight into the final and then Mumbai beat Kolkata again in the eliminator to progress to the second semi final. So, we then all headed off to Chennai for the last two matches and arrived at about 6pm with our first match the next night. Chennai is located on the east coast of India and the weather here is about 40 degrees with 80 percent humidity – yes, very warm.
The second semi final saw Mumbai lose to Bangalore – not even Tendulkar could get Mumbai across the line after Gayle scored a brilliant 89 off 47 balls for Bangalore. So, it was now a Chennai v Bangalore final and fittingly so as they have been the best two sides in the competition.
Match day for the final and this was my 5th game in 7 days but it wasn’t hard to get motivated being a final and being my last game before going home to see the family. The ground was a sea of yellow flags and shirts in support of the local team, the Chennai Super Kings (CSK). It was CSK who won the toss and chose to bat first and one of the great T20 opening partnerships was witnessed by all as Hussey and Vijay put on 159 inside 15 overs before Hussey was caught on the boundary. These batsmen were exhausted and looked more like they had been swimming for an hour rather than playing cricket – they were drenched in sweat and were on the verge of being physically sick. Dwayne bravo came in for the last ball of the CSK innings and hit a six to take their total past the 200 mark. The locals were screaming with delight, so it was time for Asad and I to head back to the umpire room for the 10 minute interval, a drink of water and a couple of headache tablets!
Bangalore’s run chase got off to a poor start when they lost their star batsman (Chris Gayle) and IPL4 top scorer in the first over – caught behind off a thin edge by Dhoni, and once again the decibel level rose to great heights. CSK took wickets at regular intervals and it became a non contest in the end as Bangalore finished nearly 50 runs short and 9 wickets down. Match over and the local groundstaff seemed more excited with the win than the players as they charged onto the field with arms raised in an attempt to give Dhoni a big hug.
I got back into the dressing room, threw my soaked uniform into the bin and hopped into a cold shower to refresh. We then sat down to have a bite to eat just after midnight and debrief the game. A few of the guys are off early in the morning while I’ve got a midnight flight the next day – so plenty of time to get some sleep and pack.
Well, that’s it – another month in India with 13 matches officiated while this year I’ve had a total of one month with the family out of five. Time for a break now and will try not to do too much in the next 5 weeks except keep the wood up to the fireplace and give Helen a break at home.
Best wishes for now, Simon.
Inside the juggernaut – Simon Taufel on umpiring big cricket.
Australian cricket umpire Simon Taufel has kindly agreed for the Museum to publish his blogs from major world tournaments. Featuring unique insights into the challenges and rewards of touring and umpiring at the top level, the Museum gratefully acknowledges Simon’s permission to reproduce his work.