Fond memories of 'Oom' Bouch
As I write this, I’m about to board a plane to Zimbabwe – the latest stop for me in what has been a bit of a whirlwind few weeks.
My focus for the past couple of those weeks has been SA ‘A’, the team I’ve been leading in two four-day games against Sri Lanka ‘A’. We’ve just completed the second of those games and followed up our innings victory in the first match with a fairly satisfactory draw in the second, to win the series 1-0.
I was actually pretty happy with that result, despite some people suggesting that we may have been complacent. My reason for that is the fact that the second game was completely different from the first. We lost seamer Rory Kleinveldt before the game and that set us back, before Ryan McLaren did a side muscle during the first innings. So, we were down two of our frontline bowlers and that’s why I think we did very well to draw.
Coach Vincent Barnes was disappointed with our performance, compared with how we played in the first game, particularly our batting. But, I think the Sri Lankans bowled a lot better in this game and seemed to have worked out what length to bowl on that Kingsmead wicket. That being said, we definitely weren’t as impressive as we were in the first game.
Last week I talked about some of the young guys to watch coming through. This week, there weren’t any stars, but I neglected to mention Farhaan Behardien last week, and I think he has great potential. He scored an excellent half-century in the first innings and has already had an opportunity with the Proteas, in the T20 format. He’s one of the guys to watch.
What I did enjoy about my time in Durban was getting to know some of the other guys from the other franchises. When you’re playing against each other through the season, there’s not always that opportunity, particularly if you’re touring with the national side.
I also had the opportunity to get my girlfriend down from Pretoria and it was nice to spend some time with her. The life of a professional cricketer means that I’m away from home a lot, so when you get the chance to see your loved ones, it’s important to make the most of it. As it is, I’m now away for another 10 days in Zim, before coming home for 10 days and then heading to Ireland.
Before I go, a few words on Mark Boucher. When I first heard of his eye injury, I got goose bumps all over. Knowing Mark well enough, having played with him, I was distraught and it really got to me. I heard Jacques Kallis say in an interview that it puts things into perspective, regarding what’s important in life, and he was so right.
We put so much focus on our careers and when it comes to life, cricket is actually just a small thing. All of us are just hoping and praying that Mark’s eye will recover and that he will have a healthy life with his eye. He’s a guy who really loves being outdoors, so I know how important it is for him.
Mark really is a legend in South African cricket and it’s just a shame that he hasn’t been able to go out on his own terms, with that 150th test match at Lord’s. That being said, I’ve been amazed at the amount of support for him and that just shows how many lives he’s touched and what a South African sports icon he is.
The incident has led to me reflecting on my time with Mark in the national side. When I came in, he was a proper ‘senior player’. By that I mean that he had such an aura about him that I almost called him ‘Oom’! He didn’t demand respect, but his record and experience dictated that you gave him instant respect.
I was initially very scared of him, but he makes it very easy for people to communicate with him. Once I got to know him better, he didn’t mind taking the mickey out of me, with regards my hairstyle or dress sense! He also regularly sent messages of congratulations to me at the World Cup and during the IPL. He didn’t have to do that, but it meant to lot to me.
Just wishing him all the best with his recovery. He will be missed in the national side.