Back in India for my next challenge
It’s quite strange to think that I’m already back in India just over a week after our World Cup quarterfinal defeat to New Zealand. I’m here for the IPL, which gets under way on the 8th of April and I’ll be playing for the Chennai Super Kings – the defending champions.
Arriving back in India still felt like a bit of an open wound, particularly with the tournament still on, with just the final to be played.
All the stuff we went through with the Black Caps, there just wasn’t enough time to digest everything and I was still hurting. It was strange seeing some of the New Zealand guys as my new teammates and I’ll admit, I felt a bit sour, but it’s over now.
Watching the World Cup final, I was a bit 50/50, with no particular preference for who I wanted to win. I had thought, before the tournament, that India were the favourites and then seeing them win the game, I thought it was great, because they were under massive pressure. Then, to play like that and to peak at the right time was pretty impressive.
During the game, when I saw Sri Lanka get over 270 and India were 30 for two, I thought India had no chance, batting second and needing to get those runs in a final. I just thought it would be too much for them. But, credit to their batters and especially Gambhir and Dhoni.
When Dhoni came in, everyone said, ‘what’s he doing at four, with Yuvraj (Singh) being the in-form batter?’ But, it just shows you what courage Dhoni has and how he backs himself. Also, how the team backs him. Then he goes and wins the game for them, having not got many runs the entire World Cup. It shows you just how important big players are in the big games.
I actually watched the first half of the game in my hotel room in Chennai. Myself and Albie Morkel flew in together on a day flight from South Africa. So, we didn’t sleep much. I caught up on a bit of sleep and then watched the first half of the game in my room. The two of us then watched the second half with some friends of the owner of the Chennai Super Kings. It was good to watch with some locals and see how they support their team.
After the game, the first thing that ran through my mind was, ‘we beat the world champions’. It just shows the talent we’ve got in South Africa, in our team. Also, how much we’ve got to look forward to and to work on. The difference with India was that as they got to the big games, they started to play more solid cricket. They had a few average results – against ourselves and England – but when it came to the quarterfinals, they had their A-game and we can learn from them about peaking at the right time.
Obviously, winning the World Cup, you have to play some serious cricket – you have to play three of the best teams in the world in the knockout stages and win those games.
It was awesome what Gary Kirsten achieved with the Indian team and I was very proud to see a South African face there, winning the World Cup, even though he’s the coach. He’s very respected here in India and the people here absolutely love him. Gary looks like a great coach and it would be fantastic if he took the Proteas job, as he’s obviously doing the right things.
I mentioned some of the New Zealand guys earlier. Scott Styris and Tim Southee are two of my new teammates and I knew that I had to put it all behind me, because I’m now playing with them. We’ve had a good chat and a laugh about it, so, it’s all good.
The first night, Albie and myself went out to dinner with them and it was good to talk about the quarterfinal incident and have a drink off the field. They are just normal cricketers and clearly, they play the game hard on the field. Off the field, they are good guys. But I did tell them that I can’t wait for my next game against New Zealand – I’ve got a lot of revenge to dish out and they are expecting it.
In terms of my time with the Super Kings, we’ve had a few practice sessions already. I can see it’s a good set-up here and I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen of some of the Indian players in the nets.
The bowling coach is former Australia fast bowler Andy Bichel, and Stephen Fleming, the former New Zealand captain, is the head coach. He’s very well respected and I’m really looking forward to working with him – he looks like he knows a lot about what he wants to do.
There’s also a South African in the set-up, in the form of fitness trainer Greg King, who spent four years with the Indian national team. A couple of the Indian and Sri Lankan players will have some time off before joining us just before the tournament starts, as will Mike Hussey, who is playing for Australia against Bangladesh.
I can’t wait to get started and it’ll be interesting to see what the make-up of the team will be. Regardless of whether I’m selected or not, I’ll be ready to go. Chat soon.