A 15-year long journey will end on Monday when Allahudien Paleker walks out onto the Imperial Wanderers turf in Johannesburg to take charge of South Africa against India in the second Test. The Cape Town-born official turned 44 on Saturday and he will celebrate his latest birthday by becoming South Africa’s 57th Test umpire – and the 497th in the history of the game dating back to the year 1877. A former first-class cricketer, Paleker will line up opposite one of his mentors and inspirations, Marais Erasmus, at the ‘Bullring’ where he will finally reach the top after years of sacrifice and hard work.
“It definitely will be a proud moment for me. You know when you start umpiring, your dream and your goal is to get to the highest level and to stand in a Test match,” Allahudien Paleker said in a statement.
“I started umpiring 15 years ago, so it’s been a long time coming. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of patience and you need strong support from family as well because of the time you sacrifice being away from home,” he said.
“I haven’t attended a family function or wedding in summer for years because I’m just never available. So there’s a lot of sacrifice when it comes to that and my wife Shakira has had to endure a lot too. I must also thank her for the support and patience she has shown through my journey, she has really been a pillar of strength for me,” he added.
“And now with the pandemic things have got even tougher. It definitely hasn’t come easy and it will be a moment to savour for all of us,” he further said.
According to Cricket South Africa (CSA), Paleker comes from a family of umpires. His father Jamalodien is an umpire, who still officiates for Wynberg High School in Cape Town.
He is currently in his 70s and umpired in competitions such as CSA’s Club Championships in the mid-1990s.
He also has an uncle who also still umpires, whilst two of his cousins are also developing umpires.
“My dad was a big inspiration for me to get to the top and to fulfil his dream, which he couldn’t get to,” said Paleker.
“He always wanted to be a first-class umpire but never got there for various reasons, so I followed in his footsteps to almost carry the baton forward,” he added.
Apart from his father, two other men have had a significant impact on his umpiring career.
“I really look up to are Aleem Dar, who I spent a week with in 2012 in New Zealand. We’ve been in touch with each other since then and he’s a huge inspiration for me. And then domestically we have our very own Marais. He’s an elite umpire and what he’s achieved over the last few years is amazing. You want to reach his levels,” said Paleker.
Before becoming an umpire, Paleker also enjoyed a playing career that spanned seven years. A former batsman, he played for both Western Province and a Titans team that included the likes of Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn.
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