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    Marais Erasmus on Thursday won the David Shepherd Trophy for the Umpire of the Year for 2016 while Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq won the Spirit of Cricket Award.

    Erasmus was voted by the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) elite panel match referees as well as the Test playing captains, and he beats off strong competition for this award from his colleagues Richard Illingworth, Bruce Oxenford and Richard Kettleborough.

    Erasmus is the fifth umpire to win this prestigious award after Simon Taufel (2004 to 2008), Aleem Dar (2009-2011), Kumar Dharmasena (2012) and Richard Kettleborough (2013-2015).

    Erasmus, 52, made his international debut in October 2007 in a One-Day International (ODI) between Kenya and Canada at the Nairobi Gymkhana and was promoted to the elite panel in 2010.

    Reacting to the news, Erasmus said, in an ICC release: “David Shepherd has been one of the role models for many aspiring umpires and to win the trophy named after him is something to be really proud of. It has been an excellent period of international cricket and I consider myself extremely fortunate to be part of it.

    “I thank the match referees and the Test captains for voting me as the ICC Umpire of the Year 2016, but the fact is without the support, help and encouragement of my Playing Control Teams, this would not have been possible. As such, it is appropriate that I win this on behalf of all my fellow match officials.

    “I would like to thank my wife Adele and my sons Chris and Geo for their support and sacrifices so that I can live the dream of umpiring at the world stage, as well as my ICC coach, Denis Burns, who during the past three years guided me to become the best possible umpire that I can be.”

    ICC General Manager – Cricket, Geoff Allardice, congratulated Erasmus, saying: “The ICC is very fortunate to have such a strong team of umpires, and Marais has been deservedly rewarded for the steady improvement in his umpiring over the past few years. This recognition, voted by the match referees and the Test captains, shows the high regard in which Marais is held by those closely involved with the game.”

    The 42-year-old Misbah was adjudged the winner for inspiring his side to play the game in its true spirit, at the same time lifting the Pakistan cricket team from number four to number one on the Test team rankings. It was achieved without playing any Test matches in his home country.

    Misbah is the first Pakistan player to win the award with the previous winners being M.S. Dhoni (2011), Daniel Vettori (2012), Mahela Jayawardena (2013), Katherine Brunt (2014) and Brendon McCullum (2015). New Zealand also won this award in 2004, 2009 and 2010, England in 2005 and 2006, and Sri Lanka in 2007 and 2008.

    Commenting on the news, Misbah said: “I feel honoured and humbled to have won the ICC Spirit of Cricket Award. To lift the Test mace earlier this year and now this in the twilight of my career, is a message for every athlete that age is not a barrier as long as the sportsperson maintains highest fitness levels and continues to perform up to international standards.

    “As a team, we have focused on playing within the rich traditions of the sport with a positive mindset and approach so that we can entertain the spectators and fans, and at the same time, challenge the oppositions. I am glad that this has been noticed and recognised by the game’s governing body.”

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