Chittagong: There was a touch of nervous anticipation as Marais Erasmus walked up to the pitch at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium here on Saturday. Erasmus peered hard while, perhaps, trying to fathom what was in store for him over the next five days as the Indians geared up for the first Test against Bangladesh.

The 45-year old South African umpire is making his Test debut and admitted that he did feel the nerves. “Butterflies are good… I mean, you should get them in your tummy. Otherwise, what’s the point. It is a big match for me,” Erasmus said.

Being in the best seat on a cricket field, has he ever been transfixed by any batsman? “Look, you do have players like Sachin Tendulkar who is a legend, and I do like watching Virender Sehwag bat, as anything can happen. I especially like watching Shane Warne closely, but finally you have to be truthful to yourself and be focussed on your job,” Erasmus said.

Back home in South Africa, where he is happy with his teaching background and finds relief in a supportive family that is used to his absence, cricket is probably No. 3 in the popularity charts, according to him.

“But, in India, the players are huge. When I umpired in a recent game at Rajkot, two fans on the flight recognised that I was connected to cricket and, in fact, helped me find my way to the team hotel after we landed. So, I guess it helps to be recognised,” Erasmus said.

In a warning in a lighter vein, he said: “Once in an under-13 game, I adjudged a kid leg-before wicket when the ball had hit the bat. The square-leg umpire whispered to me and I quickly revoked the decision. That was a bloomer and I guess there might be many more.” — Principal Correspondent

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