A taste of test cricket and Olympics
Nice to have a few days off after what was an intense second test against England. It was a test match that I ended up playing a significant part in, although not as a batter or bowler. I was 12th man and with the injuries to Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Alviro Petersen, I was on the field for a long time, particularly that England first innings, when Kevin Pietersen was going mad.
It was great to have my first test cricket experience and to take my first catch – Stuart Broad, caught off the bowling of Imran Tahir, with me running back and taking the catch over my shoulder. It’s hard to put into words just how different test cricket is. Even as a fielder, I could still appreciate the different level and how high the standard is. The pressure is also intense and I now have a good idea of what it’s all about. It really is the ultimate test of skill and I just want to be part of it. What was fascinating was watching how the momentum swung between the two teams, and witnessing how that impacted on the way the various players played.
Now we’re staying on a beautiful golf estate in Derby, just outside the city, with the tour game against Derbyshire up ahead. It’s a game I’m definitely playing in, due to the injuries I mentioned and it looks like I’ll be hanging around next week, although those injuries are not serious ones. I’m here to provide cover, although I still don’t know if I will be joining up with the SA ‘A’ team next week.
On our first day here in Derby, a lot of us played golf on the lovely course here. I was paired with Smith and we were up against Kallis and Morne Morkel. I got a bit cocky after 10 holes and sent out a cheeky tweet, because we were three-up and I was having to carry my captain, who wasn’t playing very well. But, my cockiness came back to haunt me, as we lost the game on the final hole. Lesson learnt!
The next day, we headed into London to experience the Olympics and it was an amazing day, as we got to have lunch in the athletes’ village and meet those South African athletes who were still around. The Deputy Sports Minister, Gert Oosthuizen was also there. Walking around the enormous village was an incredible experience, as I recognised a lot of famous faces, without always being able to put a name to them. I did, though, recognise the famous tennis player, Kim Clijsters, as she had lunch right next to us. The dining hall really is incredible, with just about every kind of food you can think of, from just about every culture in the world. There’s also a massive McDonald’s, which you can walk up to and order anything you want, without having to pay. After that, we watched some live women’s hockey action – the semifinal between New Zealand and the Netherlands. So, nice to see some live Olympic action and be part of the experience.
The next week or so will be dominated by the Derby game and the build-up to the all-important third test at Lord’s. We’re 1-0 up and it’s a huge test series, so I don’t mind being in the background and just playing some small part in an amazing sporting experience. But, if the team need me, I’ll be ready. If by some chance, someone got injured and I was called up, Lord’s is not the worst place to make your debut – at the home of cricket. Now that would be something special.
Lastly, before I go, just a word on the death of Titans Cricket CEO, Elise Lombard. She has been around Titans cricket for years, well before I got there, and it was just so sad to hear of her passing. She did so much for Titans cricket, which all of us players appreciate. My thoughts are with her family. A real tragedy – she’s going to be missed, because she was a really special lady.