A 15-year long journey will end on Monday when Allahudien Paleker walks out onto the Wanderers turf in Johannesburg to take charge of the Proteas against India in the second Betway Test.
Palekar who turned 44 on Saturday will become 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.
Palekar said his 70-year-old dad Jamalodien who is also an is an umpire and still officiates for Wynberg High School in Cape Town was a big inspiration for him to get to the top and to fulfil his dream which he couldn’t get to.
“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. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of patience. 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.”
Palekar said he received strong support from family because of the time umpires sacrifice being away from home.
“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.”
Apart from his father, Palekar said 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.”
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.
Palekar’s father will be watching him live at the Wanderers.