Valuable lessons learnt
The last time we spoke I had just arrived in Dunedin and I was trying to remember what time of the day it was. My body and my watch were certainly not in the same time zone!
But only the first couple of days, when you’re fighting the urge
to sleep, were difficult. I ended up not trying to fight it and
setting my alarm to wake me up in an hour or so.
I’m well into the swing of things now, and I can tell you that New
Zealand is a great place to visit. Dunedin was a bit miserable in
weather terms, but we made peace with it as a team and we figured it
was part of the New Zealanders’ strategy to try and break us. We spoke
about it and decided that it wouldn’t work and that we were up for
whatever they could throw at us.
In fact, being in Dunedin became a factor that worked in our
favour. It was a bit like Potchefstroom in that the people are a
close-knit community and there is time and space to focus on what
mattered most: playing good cricket.
I thought we did that, although we were disappointed that we
didn’t get the chance to push for victory when the last day of the
first test was washed out. We really believed we were in a strong
position to go 1-0 up in the series. But, as cricketers, we’ve all
been there before and you simply have to pack your kit and move on to
the next game.
Dunedin also set us up well for the second and third tests. We’ve
gained strength as a unit by spending time in a place where, because
of the lack of distractions, a lot of our focus was on each other and
what we wanted to achieve as a squad.
At a personal level I felt really good at the crease in the first
innings in Dunedin. Then I got a straight delivery which I thought had
pitched outside leg, but DRS said otherwise and I was on my way.
In the second innings I wanted to be more positive; I wanted to
try to dominate the bowling and as a team we wanted to get rid of the
deficit as soon as possible.
Also, being the first test of the series I was determined to stamp
my authority on the Kiwis. I didn’t want to be seen as predictable. I
wanted to give them something to think about, and to keep thinking
about for the rest of my time here.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that well for me. If I had
scored a century I’m sure people would have said I played a great
innings. The truth of it is that 25 is a long way from 100.
But one of the great things about cricket is that you are able to
take what you have learnt into your next performance. What I was
trying to do didn’t happen in terms of the numbers on the scoreboard,
but what I’ve picked up about New Zealand conditions and their
bowlers, as well as what I did right and wrong in Dunedin, will travel
with me for the rest of the series.
I know, mentally as well as technically, what I want to do. And
Seddon Park here in Hamilton looks and feels like a good place to do
it. When I walked onto the ground the first day we were here it felt
like home. The sky was blue and there was morning dew on the field.
Playing cricket for your country is always a challenge, but I’ve
set my sights high and I hope to achieve my goals here.