Back to business as top spot beckons
Well, the one-day series against England is officially under way, although it doesn’t feel like it, after Friday’s rained out game in Cardiff. This week it’s Southampton, The Oval and then Lord’s, so by the time I report back early next week, we’ll all have a fairly good idea of how this one-day series is going.
It actually seems like an age since the test series ended, particularly as we came off such a high. So, it’s been fairly quiet, mainly due to the fact that the series was quite draining from a mental point of view, and all the guys involved in it needed a few days to recuperate.
What has been nice is seeing some of the one-day guys coming in to freshen things up and keep the rest of us on our toes. So, we’ve had the likes of Ryan McLaren, Justin Ontong, Dean Elgar and Wayne Parnell come in, and they look really keen to make their mark on this series. They’ve brought great energy to the squad, because they haven’t been on tour and that’s a good element to have.
Rain has prevented us from having consistent practice sessions, but we’ve had enough to stay sharp, and I feel we’re well prepared. Off the field, the dynamic has changed slightly, as most of the wives and girlfriends have gone home, after joining us for the end of the test series. It’s quite different when you have little kids running around your team hotel and making a lot of noise, and it’s quite a nice distraction from the cricket itself.
Now it’s back to business, although there have been enough light moments as well. Among those was our experience at the movies in Southampton the other night. The movie theatres are quite different over here, in that there are a lot more food options instead of just the chocolate and popcorn that you get in South Africa.
So, we were all treated to the sight of Morne Morkel smashing a full plate of nachos, while watching the latest Bourne movie. The big man has quite an appetite on him and that plate of nachos didn’t stand a chance!
I mentioned Dean Elgar earlier and it’s great to have him in the squad. He made his debut in that rained out game in Cardiff, so he got to go through a ritual or tradition that was started some time ago for guys making their debut.
We got together as a group in the team meeting and Graeme Smith said a few words, explaining what it means to play for the Proteas and what the symbol actually means.
You know, when there’s a fire, the Protea is the first thing to grow back or rejuvenate, and that’s part of what we think the national team represents. It’s what we want to be known for and it’s what we communicate to all new players, along with our support, and to let him know that we’re all behind him.
It’s a special day for a debutant and I remember how special it was for me, about 18 months ago. What’s nice is that Dean’s family are here to watch him, so it’s going to be a special week for the Elgar family.
Looking at the series as a whole, there’s some added incentive for us as a win over England will see us claim the world one-day series ranking from them, as we did in the test series. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves, but it’s a nice carrot. England are a top one-day team, they hammered Australia, and you don’t get to number one by accident. They’ve got great balance, with good openers in Cook and Bell, a top spinner in Swann, an explosive middle order, a great finisher in Morgan, and then some top seamers in Anderson, Finn and Bresnan, who I played a lot of county cricket against.
In saying that, we’ve got some proper all-rounders coming in, like McLaren and Parnell, so we will also be strong down the order. We are resting some key players, like Kallis, so we are going to have to play to our full potential if we are to win the series.
If we do manage to win this series, it will be a fantastic result, and we would go into the World T20 as the holders of the top ranking in both test and one-day 50-over cricket. Now, that would be something.