Marais Erasmus will become only the third South African umpire to stand in 100 ODIs when he officiates in the first match between the Proteas and visiting India here on Wednesday.
The 57-year-old Erasmus, widely considered as one of the best umpires in the world, will join the duo of Rudi Koertzen and David Orchard when he steps out at Boland Park here for his milestone assignment.
Koertzen held the world record of 209 ODIs — a mark set between 1992 and 2010 — until he was recently overtaken by Pakistan’s Aleem Dar (211), who is still going, while Orchard umpired 107 matches between 1994 and 2003.
Erasmus has been officiating at the highest level since 2007 and has also been the man in the middle for 70 Tests, 35 T20Is and 18 Women’s T20Is.
“I’m very proud to have survived long enough to get to this milestone. It’s a tough environment to survive because we’re under scrutiny all the time, so to have gotten through that period fills me with pride,” Erasmus was quoted as saying in the Cricket South Africa website.
“We are all servants of the game, but sometimes when milestone are reached, we are recognised, which is really nice.”
Erasmus said that getting to 100 ODIs was never something he thought about when his journey first began in Nairobi on October 18, 2007 — in a match between Kenya and Canada.
“When you start out, you never look that far ahead. It’s obviously a new thing and you try to enjoy those moments, which is what I’ve done.
“But as you get on to the third and fourth and fifth year, you naturally then think about reaching 50 or whatever landmark is closest. So getting 100 is fantastic, but it’s not part of the goal-setting. You just want to be there and do the best job you possibly can.”
Erasmus, who will become the 18th umpire in the world to officiate in 100 ODIs, said he and his family have sacrificed a lot to get to where he is. He said his wife Adele left her job to look after their twin boys.
“And now in Covid times where I’ve been in a bubble for six weeks, she’s alone for Christmas, so it’s been tough at times. But umpiring has given us so many opportunities. We’ve travelled the whole world as a family, so there’s been more good things than bad.”
He said it’s nice to hear good things about his umpiring but at the same time “there’s a certain level of expectation” which puts him under a little bit more pressure “because we all have pride in our performance”.
“We don’t want to be talked about and normally when that happens it’s because we made a mistake. I’m just really happy that things have gone the way they have.”
So, does Erasmus have any preference when it comes to umpiring? Like players, he concedes that Test cricket is the most gruelling and can be tough on the officials too.
“Umpiring Test matches are definitely more challenging because of the length of games and the type of pressures that go with it. So, it is far more taxing, but that’s not to say that ODIs and T20Is aren’t.
“With the limited overs, if you have a bad day you know you don’t have to be on the field tomorrow, but with a Test you know you have to come back and that is just psychologically challenging, especially if you have a bad start. You know it can be a long five days.
“They all bring different challenges, the different formats, but I’ve enjoyed everything about international cricket so far. I’m really motivated to continue… I’m still keen to do another two or three years.”