Reflecting on an amazing achievement
Greetings from Perth Airport. I’m wrapping this up before catching the plane back to South Africa, and it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind. Just a few hours ago we wrapped up our second consecutive series victory in Australia, and I’m only now starting to reflect on just what an achievement that is.
How do I feel? Very relieved, for one, and obviously happy with the series win. It was a hard-fought and emotional series, just like the England series, but it’s just great to come out the other end as the winners, and we’re very happy with our performance.
The changeroom at the Waca after we won was obviously a great place to be, with lots of celebrating. We also talked among ourselves about the year so far, which has seen us play 10 test matches, nine of them away from home. Our record so far is five wins and five draws, so we haven’t been beaten, and that’s pretty satisfying.
We had a couple of drinks and then the Australian guys joined us, which was great, as there’s lots of respect on both sides. I was lucky enough to sit next to Ricky Ponting on the final day of his test career, and it was pretty special. We didn’t talk much cricket and I’m not sure it had hit him by then. He’ll probably only realise when he wakes up tomorrow, that it’s all over. Not much to say about the guy, other than that he’s just a legend of the game and his record speaks for itself.
Not only that, though, he’s a top man and I almost think that counts for more than his record as a player. That’s how people judge you – not just on the numbers, but how you are as a person. But certainly, as a batsman, he’s right up there among the greats of the game. He may not have scored many runs against us in this series, but he’s still an all-time great with an amazing record.
If you watched on TV, you would have seen us perform a guard of honour for Ricky, when he came out to bat on the final day. I have to claim some of the credit for that, as when Shane Watson’s wicket fell, I went up to Graeme and asked him if we were going to do something for Ricky. Funnily enough, Graeme had forgotten, but he pulled the guys together and it was very special. It was an honour to spend his last day in test cricket with him.
Reflecting on the game itself, some have said that it’s almost unbelievable that we won this game in four days, after being 75 for six on day one. But, I can believe it, because we did it in England, coming back from a bad position to dominate a test match. For me, the first turnaround came when we had those partnerships down the order in the first innings, involving Faf, Robin Peterson and Vernon. After that, the way we bowled in the first innings was obviously crucial, and to get a lead after making only 225 in our first innings, was just incredible. We just took that momentum and carried that through to the end of the game.
Just a word on Faf. It’s always great to get runs in your first couple of test matches. He came in at a crucial time, with the loss of JP Duminy. But, he came in and showed that the depth of South African cricket is good. His efforts in Adelaide and Perth will have given him so much confidence. Also, the experience he’s gained in difficult conditions is probably equal to about 20 test matches!!
Off the field, there wasn’t too much to report, although Vern and I did save our evening tea ritual for the final evening of the series. It just felt the right time to resurrect that tradition, and I think there was something in me that felt that we would wrap the game up on day four. I’m not superstitious, but the tea thing might become more of a habit!
Now I’m about to board the plane for South Africa with about 10 others. I’ve got most of the management with me, including Gary Kirsten and Allan Donald, as well as Jacques Rudolph and Ryan McLaren.
It’s going to be a great flight home.