A dream come true
Greetings from the UK – a place I didn’t realise I’d be just 36 hours ago. I’ve just arrived after an overnight flight from Johannesburg, and the excitement levels haven’t diminished much.
What a day! Tuesday 31 July looked like proceeding pretty much as the days before had, with me enjoying some down time ahead of the South Africa ‘A’ tour to Ireland. But, pretty early on that all changed, with me getting a call from national convenor of selectors, Andrew Hudson. He told me that Albie Morkel had an ankle injury and that they wanted me to join up with the Proteas test squad in England. That’s to provide batting cover for the third test at Headingley in Leeds.
My girlfriend was with me at the time, so she was the first person to know, and then I called my folks, who were perhaps a bit more emotional than me! Don’t get me wrong – it’s the realisation of a dream, to be part of the national test squad, but I think I’ve learnt how to handle news like this, having gone through one-day international selection and then T20 selection.
Andrew didn’t say too much, other than to say that my form has been really good over the past year, and I’m relieved that the national selectors convinced me not to go and play 20/20 cricket for Somerset a few months ago, as that would have meant me missing out on this opportunity. As a result, I’ve been playing four-day cricket and have the right kind of cricket under my belt.
It’s a really unbelievable feeling, being part of the test squad. I started my international career in 50-over cricket, and then progressed to T20 cricket. However, there was obviously a massive hole that needed filling, and it’s always been my dream to play test cricket. The last year or so, I’ve really been working hard on my game in the four-day format, and it’s just great to be rewarded for that now.
Even if I don’t play right now, at least I know where I stand, in the minds of the selectors. I also like the process of being involved in the set-up, before actually playing. That is a great way of preparing for when you actually make your debut. All that being said, I’ve now played a fair amount of international cricket, so, should I be needed straight away, I will be ready for test cricket.
If I don’t play in the third test at Headingley, I’ll spend a couple of days with the Proteas, before heading to Ireland to join the SA ‘A’ team. At least then I’ll be playing four-day cricket. So, should I be needed, I’ll have some good game time under my belt. Everything will probably depend on the state of Albie’s ankle and whether or not there are any other injuries among the batters. If I’m not needed, I’ll join up with the Proteas one-day squad after the test series.
Perhaps the best part of all of this is playing some part in such an exciting series. The Proteas are 1-0 against the number one test team in the world, who are going to come hard at them on a ground that has produced exciting test cricket in the past. The Headingley crowd also like to get involved in the game, so there’ll be a great buzz about the place.
Before the excitement of the past couple of days, it had been a fairly quiet week. As I mentioned earlier, I was just focusing on resting. I’ve also had some issues with my back, so I spent some time doing some rehab, visiting the physio and sitting in an oxygen tank, which speeds up the healing process. Nothing serious, but I just wanted to make sure that I looked after myself when I had the opportunity to do this.
There’s a lot of cricket coming up, so I’m glad I’ve done everything possible to be in the shape I want to be in.
Until next week.