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A day in the life of a national captain

Greetings from Durban, where we are preparing for the KFC International T20 series against New Zealand. I thought I’d update you on my first week as national T20 captain, and then we can wrap up the series late next week, hopefully having accomplished what we set out to do as the Proteas Blue Label Telecoms T20 side.

Well, I can tell you that being captain is a totally different experience from being a player and relaxing in your hotel room all day before practice! In particular, there’s even more interest after our success in Australia, and there are suddenly a lot more radio stations interested in having a chat. So, I’ve spent a lot more time doing things I normally don’t do, but I really don’t mind.

Just to give you an idea, Thursday, the day before the first game at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, my commitments kicked off at 8:45am with a radio interview, followed by another one at 9:30. A couple of the Afrikaans stations are chuffed that I speak the language, but if I’m honest, I actually find it easier replying in English. In fact, I was caught out today, trying to find the Afrikaans word for ‘complacent’ – I wasn’t that successful!

Then, at 10 o’clock I had a meeting with new Proteas T20 coach, Russell Domingo, to talk about the team, selection, and our plans. After that, it was the batters’ meeting at 11 and then the bowlers’ meeting at 11:30 – all these meetings taking place at our hotel in Umhlanga. As the squad is fairly new, there was a lot to go over in terms of our plans.

The New Zealand squad also has some good players who we don’t know much about, so the analysis of them is important from a video footage point of view.

At 12:30 I left to go and have my picture taken with Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, with the two of us posing with the series trophy. At 13:00, I was back in another meeting with the match referee and McCullum, talking about time during the game, as well as all the rules he wanted us to follow. At 13:30, there was the pre-match press conference, with all the print, online, radio and TV media – English and Afrikaans.

We then practiced until about 16:45 and I got back into my hotel room by about 17:20, at which point I sat down to write this column. On Thursday evening, at six, we had a team meeting, which is quite important as it’s a fairly young and inexperienced Proteas T20 squad. The meeting was followed by a team braai, which is also important for a bit of ‘spanbou’ and some fun.

So, a hectic day all round, but I wouldn’t change it for anything – I just wanted to give you an idea of what the captaincy entails.

While all this is going on, I have to remember that I also need to focus on my role as a top-order batter. As things stand now, I’m going to be batting three, with Richard Levi and Henry Davids opening the innings as natural opening batters.

I can bat in most positions in the top order, so it makes sense for me not to open. But, it’s very important for me to get that focus on my batting once I’m done with my captaincy commitments. I also need to spend some time with the younger guys who are new to international cricket, and make sure that they are relaxed and that there is no extra pressure on them.

In terms of my goals for this series, I obviously want to win it – that’s very important. On a personal note, to keep doing what I’ve been doing for a while, making sure I put in match-winning performances, either with the bat or ball, or in the field. Basically, to make a contribution to the team winning – that’s the most important goal. I obviously want to perform, but the team result really is the priority.

Until next week, when we’ll assess if we’ve managed to achieve the goals I’ve set.

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