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Bolanders Marais Erasmus and Adrian Holdstock reunite at Test level

Boland boys Marais Erasmus (left) and Adrian Holdstock will be paired together for the first time at Test level when South Africa and Sri Lanka meet at SuperSport Park on Boxing Day. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Boland boys Marais Erasmus (left) and Adrian Holdstock will be paired together for the first time at Test level when South Africa and Sri Lanka meet at SuperSport Park on Boxing Day. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Published Dec 23, 2020

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PRETORIA – Adrian Holdstock and Marais Erasmus will become the first pair of South African umpires to officiate in a Test match together in this country in 28 years when the Proteas meet Sri Lanka on Boxing Day.

The Covid-19 restrictions, which include limits on travel, have pushed the International Cricket Council to appoint local umpires since international cricket restarted in the pandemic. In a weird coincidence, it was South Africa’s first Test series back in the international arena against India in 1992/93 that coincided with an ICC experiment where one neutral umpire stood alongside a home official.

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That season Dave Sheperd and Steve Bucknor stood in three of the four Tests. In the last Test of that four-match series Karl Liebenberg and Barry Lambson together at the Wanderers. That was the last time two local officials stood together in a Test in this country.

“It’s been 14 years in the making with lots of sacrifices and commitments along the way, so I’m just very proud and stoked that the moment has finally come,” said Holdstock, who will be officiating a Test match for the first time.

In a strange twist, Holdstock, a two time recipient of the Umpire of the Year award, used to play in the Boland side that was captained by Erasmus, who these days is widely regarded as one of the world’s top officials. “It will obviously be special because we played together all those years ago,” Erasmus said. “It’s also the first time I’m going to be umpiring alongside another South African at this level, which will be unique.”

“I don’t think I could have asked for a better colleague for my first Test match,” said Holdstock. “I have complete respect for Marais and cannot wait for the weekend. His demeanour is similar to mine, he is calm and relaxed and has all those sort of qualities. “

“He was my captain, so I had to listen to him when we played. What I was told to do, I had no choice but to listen.”

While unique for the two umpires, Aiden Markram doesn’t believe it will lead to any home town decisions coming the Proteas’ way. “The umpires have been really good in the sense of you don’t feel like anything bias is happening,” said Markram. “Naturally there’s the review system for decision-making to happen, and that can’t be affected. It’s something new and different because of the times we’re going through. It won’t affect things too much on the field with local umpires. It will be fairly similar.”

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Instead, said Markram, it was the absence of crowds that the players will feel more. “The bigger challenge will be playing in front of an empty stadium. It will be up to us to create intensity and simulate what things would be like if times were normal,” he explained.

Allahudien Paleker will work as the television umpire, with Bongani Jele as the reserve umpire and Zimbabwean, Andrew Pycroft will oversee the series as the ICC Match Referee.

@shockerhess

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