Lauren Agenbag at the age of mere 22 years became the youngest umpire to stand in an international match since George Coulthard in the 1878-79 Ashes Test in Melbourne. The 22 year old also became the first South African women’s umpire to stand in a T20I when she officiated the game between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Newlands on Friday.
As per ESPNcricinfo, Simon Taufel stood in his first ODI when he was 27, while Leslie Reifer officiated the T20I between India and West Indies at Fort Lauderdale during his last week before he turned 26. Though ICC does not have official records, Agenbag is much more younger than Taufel and Reifer.
South Africa Captain Dane van Niekerk had some good words to say about her “I actually, funnily enough, I think I played with her when she was really young,” It’s awesome. It’s good to see. I congratulated her and I complimented her on being really composed today. She made really good calls. It’s awesome to see, especially at that age, the maturity she showed. She didn’t get bullied or anything on the field.”
While umpiring for her very first match Agenbag had to make a couple of difficult and marginal calls. First, when she was at square leg, she was consulted on the decision to no-ball a high, dipping delivery from seamer Masabata Klaas that beat an advancing Umesha Thimashini above waist height but still clipped the bails off the stumps.
Later, while standing at the Wynberg End, Agenbag turned down a forceful appeal for lbw against van Niekerk when the batter missed a reverse-sweep against Inoka Ranaweera and was struck on the thigh. Replays showed van Niekerk was struck just outside the line of off stump.
CSA applauded Agenbag saying, “Congratulations to Lauren on this very special day in her umpiring career.” Chief Executive Thabang Moroe said. “This is a very significant moment for umpiring in South Africa and I am sure Lauren will be an inspiration to others who want to live their dreams as international match officials.”
Post match, the South African skipper added, “She held her own and it’s awesome to a see a woman out there doing really well. I wish her all the best and hopefully we’ll see her in the new future on the international circuit. She must be pretty special at what she does if she gets this opportunity. I haven’t played when she’s umpired before, but I said to her before the game that I’d heard really good things about her and I was excited to see her out there today.”
It is indeed a long and bright journey ahead for the young Lauren Agenbag.