Laying down a marker
It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable past week since I hooked up with the SA ‘A’ side in Durban. That’s thanks to a really outstanding performance from my team, beating Sri Lanka ‘A’ by an innings and laying down a marker.
It was great to get my captaincy of the team off to a winning start and even better that I managed to get a hundred in Durban, which was incredibly satisfying. It’s been a while since I’ve had the captain’s hat on – I captained a couple of under-19 teams, the national academy and the Titans amateur side, but I certainly haven’t led a side at this level before.
But, I can say that I’m really enjoying it and what was even more pleasing about the hundred was that it showed that the captaincy didn’t have any effect on the way I play with the bat. I didn’t actually feel any extra pressure and the captaincy is something that I enjoy. As I’ve said in the past, it’s really important to cash in on opportunities like this, and when there’s a hundred for the taking, it’s important to seize that opportunity. I’m managing to do that on a more regular basis now, and that is encouraging for me.
The hundred itself was pleasing in that there was something in the wicket all the way through the game. So, I had to knuckle down and graft, before taking advantage. I felt good in the nets leading up to the game and the important thing was getting comfortable playing four-day cricket again, which I hadn’t done since February.
In terms of the captaincy, I’m aware that each skipper has his own style. For me, I’m probably somewhere in the middle of being completely relaxed and really aggressive. I’ve played enough cricket to understand what I would like from a captain and I’ve tried to be that guy in terms of being relaxed and calm and making decisions in a measured manner. I would like to be inspirational and to lead by example – hopefully the start of that took place in Durban. Most importantly, I want the guys to really enjoy being part of this SA ‘A’ side. I’m certainly having a lot of fun.
Of course, what makes things easier is that I’ve got a nice blend of experienced guys and some youngsters in the team. The experienced heads around you always help, so having a guy like Ryan McLaren has been great. Not only is he very experienced, but he is also one of the best bowlers in domestic cricket, so it’s been a huge plus having him at my disposal, and he showed that in the second innings in Durban with five wickets.
In terms of the younger guys, Dean Elgar is a great prospect and certainly, if there’s an injury at the top of the order in the SA test side, I think he’ll get the call-up. He made a great hundred in Durban and I think he has a bright future. The same can be said of Stiaan van Zyl and Rilee Rossouw, who are both talented young batsmen who have had good seasons.
So, in terms of the batting, the strength is with the young guys, while the bowlers have the more experienced heads among them, in the form of McLaren, Imran Tahir and Rory Kleinveldt, who has been around and been successful for a few seasons. What has also been pleasing to see is guys who play against each other all season coming together very quickly and forming a strong unit.
So, it’s a very healthy situation and I hope to report back on more success after our second four-day game against the same opponents in Durban. Until then.