Simon Taufel, the highly regarded former ICC umpire, has recounted a story about MS Dhoni, during India’s tour of South Africa in 2010/11, when a slow over-rate meant a suspension cloud was hanging over the then-India captain, whose reaction to the news ‘blew’ Taufel away.
Taufel, who was famously named ICC’s Umpire of the Year every year from 2004 to 2008, had sat down for a conversation with Dhoni about a potential suspension, but the Indian captain’s “relaxed” manner left an impression on the Australian umpire.
“MS Dhoni is so calm,” Taufel told Gaurav Kapur in the 22 Yarns podcast. “He’s so relaxed. But he’s also got a sense of humour that most people wouldn’t get to see. I remember sitting down in a change room in Durban with him. We’d just come off a Test match in Cape Town [Centurion], Sreesanth had bowled in that previous game – over-rate challenges, and Sree takes a long time to bowl his overs.
— Gaurav Kapur (@gauravkapur) August 6, 2020
“We sat down on these leather chairs on these umpires room in Durban, [for] an informal chat. MS is looking at these leather chairs, ‘Oh these chairs are OK, they’re pretty good’. He’s thinking, ‘How can I get a couple of these home, I wouldn’t mind buying some of these and taking them home.’
“I’m trying to have a serious discussion about over-rates and you’re worried about leather chairs! I said, ‘MS, you’ve now been done for over-rates, if you got the same problems here in Durban, we’re talking about suspension territory.’
“And he’s almost rubbed his hands together as though, ‘Suspension? I don’t mind a game off, because I’m playing a lot of cricket at the moment!’ And it just blew me away, I thought this was something different that I hadn’t seen before. But that’s the sense of humour and the relaxed nature of the character. And you develop the relationships.”