13 May LAUREN AGENBAG – SOUTH AFRICA’S UMPIRING HISTORY-MAKER
JOHANNESBURG: South African match official, Lauren Agenbag shares her pride after becoming the youngest on-field umpire to stand in a World Cup final in the 2022 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand last month.
The 25-year old was part of the first-ever four women match official panel that was in charge of the finale between England and Australia in Christchurch on Sunday, 03 April which saw the Aussies lift their record seventh title.
“it was a very proud moment for myself,” Agenbag began. “It’s something you work towards as an umpire and getting there, similarly to the players where you work towards something and the hard work pays off, it was a very proud moment for me.
“On the day itself, I probably had mixed feelings; nerves, a bit of excitement and all those kinds of things but I must say, the moment itself, very proud moment for me and one I will never forget,” she added.
Agenbag, who grew up in Centurion, started her umpiring career after moving away from being a player in her late teenage years, where she had to adapt to a new role in the sport she was raised watching at SuperSport Park as a youngster.
“In terms of transitioning from a player to an umpire, it was basically about starting to learn the laws of the game and attend meetings of what was then the Northerns Cricket Union Umpiring Association, now Titans,” Agenbag said.
“It was all about attending meetings, training, and getting to know the laws, and then you start off with your level one exam. Once you have written that and passed, you start umpiring and from there, it’s just about umpiring and improving your qualifications by doing your Level 2 and Level 3 and then continuously learning and making sure you are up to date with the laws.
“I really enjoyed the new environment that was totally different to playing, something that was challenging to me as a person; having to learn new things, going out of your comfort zone, and having to adjust to the environment.
“Overall, it was an enjoyable transition and I have been enjoying umpiring ever since. That was a big thing for me, transitioning and having a new challenge set out for me,” she added.
In February 2019, Agenbag become the first South African women to stand in an international cricket match when she oversaw the Women’s T20 International between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, before being named on the CSA Reserve List Umpires Panel later that year.
Agenbag credits numerous individuals for helping and encouraging her to become the umpire she is today, including figures at Northerns, Cricket South Africa (CSA) and ICC as well as her loved ones.
“If I have to mention everyone by name, I could write a book about it but there’s been a lot of people that have helped me through my journey. Friends and family played a big part in it; in supporting me to chase after the dream and work as hard as possible to get to where I am today.
“In the umpiring fraternity, when I started, the guys at Northerns really stepped up. There’s a couple I can mention; Rudi Birkenstock, Philip Vosloo, Jurie Sadler, Kevin Lawrence, just to name a few that really stepped up and helped and motivated me to work hard and chase after the dream.
“From CSA, Gerrie Pienaar, who has been my umpire’s coach since I got onto the panel, has done a tremendous job in supporting me and assisting me where needed. Then of course, Karl Hurter, who is the umpire’s coach from the ICC, when once I got onto the development panel, he also did a tremendous job in improving my game and skills as an umpire.
Despite her relatively young age, Agenbag has also already stood in 40 women’s international matches across T20 and 50-over cricket, including the Women’s T20 World Cup in 2019. She also became the country’s first female umpire to feature in a men’s First Class game that year when she was selected for the CSA Provincial 3-Day Cup between Central Gauteng Lions and Boland. With the achievements already under her belt, Agenbag believes she still has a lot more to do in the game, including being involved in men’s international cricket, as she looks forward to the next five years of her career.
“In terms of the next five years, I am not too sure to be honest, I try not to focus too far ahead. Right now, it’s about picking up on the areas that can be improved on and trying to improve those as best as I can.
“I would like to have the opportunity to stand in men’s international cricket one day, but it’s difficult to put a time frame on it,” Agenbag added.
Agenbag is currently part of the umpires panel at the inaugural FairBreak Invitational taking place in Dubai, which is the first privately-funded women’s tournament in association with Cricket Hong Kong that features players from over 30 countries.
“It’s a great experience,” she noted. “It’s always nice to work with different cultures, religions, and nationalities.
“With the players, the most interesting part is the language barriers and trying to get messages across to them, sometimes it’s a bit difficult and you call on other players to try and get that message across if the player is not really understanding.
“In terms of umpires, you work with the umpires a lot more than the players. It’s always interesting to see the different ways the different countries go about their umpiring and it’s very interesting in that you can actually learn a couple of things in the way that they do It, that could be different in the way you do it back home,” Agenbag concluded.
Audio featuring South African umpire, Lauren Agenbag is available to download here.
Issued by: Cricket South Africa – Corporate Communications
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Cricket South Africa (CSA), an affiliate of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC), is the national governing body for the sport of cricket in South Africa and administers all aspects of South African cricket, men, and women, both in the professional and amateur sphere.