Former ICC elite panel umpire Ian Gould recalled the battle between Sachin Tendulkar and Dale Steyn as the best batting-bowling duel he had seen in his 13-year long career as an umpire.
Having officiated in over 250 international matches, Gould couldn’t look beyond the contest in the third Test between India and South Africa at Cape Town in 2011.
“That was fierce but fair. That was as good as it got,” Gould told ESPNCricinfo.
“I stood there with a brilliant umpire, Simon Taufel, and the two of us came off and said, ‘Wow, we’d pay for that.’ Dale bowled very quick and Sachin just had the railway sleeper in his hand and kept patting it back at him. Fantastic,” he added.
Tendulkar survived a fiery spell from Steyn before going on to score 146 to help India get close to South Africa’s first-innings total of 361. With Kallis scoring centuries in both innings, the game ended in a draw.
Gould was also asked about his much-debated decision to rule Tendulkar out lbw to Saeed Ajmal during the 2011 World Cup semi-final, a decision which was subsequently overturned on DRS review. He still feels he had made the right decision.
“Don’t go down that road. I get teased about that. People send me pictures of my reaction after I was told in my ear by Billy Bowden that it was missing leg stump. It makes me laugh. It didn’t make me laugh at the time, I can assure you. But I’d give it out again with my back to the wall. It was dead. I don’t know what happened.”
Gould is also a fan of current Indian captain Virat Kohli. During his career, he was often seen sharing lighter moments with Kohli during matches.
“He’s a funny man... He’s a charmer. He’s one of those guys who’s got, a bit like Sachin Tendulkar, the whole of India on his back, but you wouldn’t know,” Gould said.
The 62-year-old retired English umpire added, “You could walk into a restaurant and sit and chat with him for hours. He’s a very worldly boy. When you look at Virat, you’re thinking male model, pin-up boy, but he knows about the game inside out, the past, history. Lovely guy.”
Officiating in matches involving India is most intimidating because of the support they attract, felt Gould. Known popularly as Gunner, Gould has now retired from International senior cricket after last year’s World Cup and said he was having problems with the amount of travel his job required.
(With PTI inputs)
Update: Cricket archivist Mainak Sinha uploaded footage of the battle between Steyn and Tendulkar here below.