A sad farewell and fun at AB's wedding
It’s been another week of work and rehab on my back, but I’m making progress and feel pretty confident about the road ahead. Fortunately, there’s been quite a bit on, so I’ve been busy and distracted from the frustrations of having a serious injury.
Freshest in my mind is the Titans’ RAM SLAM T20 Challenge final defeat to the Highveld Lions. Obviously, not the result we wanted, but I thought the Lions were the better side on the day and the top side throughout the competition.
You may wonder what role an injured player like myself plays, when it comes to games like this final. Basically, it’s just a support and encouragement role, with me making sure I don’t interfere with the team on the day or distract them too much. With regards this game, I arrived about 15 minutes before the start, but didn’t get involved in any team talks when going through the changeroom. I did, though, offer some advice to the batters and discussed their game-plans. Basically, I was there as a supporter and sounding board, should the team on the day need me.
It was unfortunate that Matthew Maynard’s final game as coach of the Titans ended in defeat. He’s one of the best coaches I’ve worked with, mainly because he’s so relaxed and treats the players like adults. Also, his background in England and Wales meant that he brought a completely different culture to the Titans. It’s a culture that is very different to a standard, mainly conservative South African culture that most of us are used to.
Matthew also strikes a good balance between working hard and recognising when it’s time to relax, spend a few hours on the golf course, or even celebrate victories. As a result, there was no hierarchy and he built friendships with some of the players. That really built camaraderie in the team. I liked that about Matthew and he will be missed at the Titans.
Just looking at the start of the Indian Premier League – not the start the Chennai Super Kings wanted, losing to the Mumbai Indians, but the Super Kings are notoriously slow starters, and they usually only get going later in the tournament. Also, a couple of guys were playing in the IPL for the first time, and that can be quite a daunting experience. MS Dhoni was awesome, nearly winning the game for CSK, but he somehow picked out the biggest guy on the boundary in Kieron Pollard. If Pollard hadn’t taken that incredible catch, I think we would have won.
With regards routine, I can tell you what that first week is like off the field. Basically, the team has a base at a hotel in Chennai and that’s where the entire squad and management stay, unless we’re travelling to a game. The routine is not too exciting and mainly consists of training and time spent in the hotel.
Because the games are so late, you get into a routine of going to bed late, and most of the time I don’t get to sleep before 1am. Back in South Africa, I’m usually asleep hours before that. Practice also takes place late and is much longer than a standard South African practice. In India, it can be as long as three or four hours. So, you usually get up around 10, go for breakfast, and then there might be an optional gym or pool session. A bit of relaxing in the hotel is followed by that late practice session around 4pm in the afternoon, and then it’s back to the hotel. You might pop out for dinner, and occasionally there’s a function to attend, although there isn’t too much of that. It can be a bit monotonous, so it’s important to stay fresh and try and mix things up, where possible.
Away from cricket, we had a fantastic time at AB and Danielle’s wedding in Bela Bela. It was a beautiful bush venue and right up AB’s street. The two of them looked very happy and we all had a good chuckle seeing De Villiers busting out his own ‘unique’ dance moves! It looked like something out of the movie Grease! It was good to have a couple of the national team guys there, such as Graeme, Dale, Robbie P, JP, Mark Boucher, Morne and Albie Morkel. AB’s two brothers were his best men, and it was a really nice moment seeing the three of them up there together.
Ahead for me, more rehab on the back, and then I plan to fly to India next week, although I won’t be ready for IPL action just yet.