Umpiring in international cricket can be an extremely tiring, tedious and a thankless task, however, one of the few upsides of being an umpire is the opportunity of watching the game from ground zero. The largely exhausting job can be very exciting especially when a skillful bowler is up against an equally adept batsman and are locked in an intense bout.
Former member of ICC's panel of elite umpires Ian Gould rated the battle between Sachin Tendulkar and Dale Steyn from the Cape Town Test of 2011 as the best batsman-bowler duel he had seen on the field in his 13-year career umpiring career.
Gould, in an interview with ESPNCricinfo, recalled the tussle between both players as 'fierce but fair'.
"That was fierce but fair. That was as good as it got. I was 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 quickly and Sachin just had the railway sleeper in his hand and kept patting it back at him. Fantastic." Gould said.
Gould was referring to the third Test between South Africa and India, which resulted in a draw. Steyn, bowling with pace and moving the ball away from the batsmen, had taken two wickets in his two spells of 11 overs but couldn't dismiss the Indian batting maestro. Tendulkar stood tall, defending his way out of the battle to make a brilliant score of 146.
India scored 364 in reply to Proteas' 362. South Africa made 341 in their second innings and match was drawn when India were batting at 166/3, chasing a target of 340.
When asked to name three best batsmen he has seen during his umpiring career, Gould went with Jacques Kallis, Tendulkar and current India captain Virat Kohli.
"Jacques Kallis, I could sit and watch all day, Virat, the same. And Sachin, if you want someone to bat for your life, he was the man."
Among bowlers, Gould chose Aussie pacers Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson along with Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal. It was Ajmal who gave Gould 'biggest heart attack' throughout his career because of his ability to spin both ways.