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Loving Cape Town – on and off the field

Greetings from Cape Town, where we’ve enjoyed a few days off after the first test win over New Zealand. As I’ve mentioned before, Cape Town is a big favourite of mine and Imari and I have made full use of the time available to us.

During the test match we enjoyed a couple of dinners out, and I’ve got a few Cape Town favourites. But, after the game, we all went through to JP Duminy’s place in Plattekloof, where he and his wife Sue entertained us. JP’s progress is going nicely, as he fights his way back from that achilles tendon injury. He was with us every day during the test match, doing his physio work, and he’s also such a big part of the national squad, attending all the team dinners etc. It will be good to eventually have him back to full fitness.

That was followed by a great day on a catamaran, which was fantastic. We set off from Hout Bay and went all around to Llandudno, Clifton and Camps Bay, before finishing off at Green Point. The weather was brilliant and it was a great day out.

As I write this, we’re an hour or two away from heading out to Franschhoek to enjoy some wine tasting. Specifically, we’re going to Rickety Bridge wine farm – they’ve been sending me some wine for about a year now and it’s going to be nice to go through and meet the guys myself, as well as offer my thanks and stay the night.

Before I forget, a quick word on our new year’s party at Graeme Smith’s house, which he had decked out in ‘neon’ decorations to suit the theme. There were a couple of interesting outfits, to say the least, but I’ll leave it at that. A couple of us headed to the Waterfront a few days before, looking for things to wear, and I came back with what I thought were some good items, including a ‘lumo’ scarf and sunglasses. Due to the fact that we were starting a test match on the second, it wasn’t a massive celebration, but the guys had a good time all the same, and we were transported back to the hotel in good time to get some rest.

Just looking at that first test, we obviously got off to a great start on the first morning, bowling New Zealand out for just 45. Graeme admitted to being a little unsure as to what he would have done, if he had won the toss, as the wicket had both grass and a few cracks on it. So, it was a good toss to lose, and fortunately it worked out for us. As a captain, you would normally look at those cracks and immediately bat first, assuming that those cracks would get bigger and make batting more difficult, the longer the match goes on. That’s obviously what Brendon McCullum thought as well, when he decided to bat first.

The key was going to be getting through that first hour, which they obviously didn’t, thanks to some outstanding bowling from our guys – Philander, Steyn and Morkel. Bowling them out for 45 was a great feeling and the dressing room was a rather festive place to be at lunch time on day one. It also made up for those days when you find yourself fielding for a long time – I think of when I fielded for Alviro Petersen at Headingley, when Kevin Pietersen was going mad, and when I came on as a substitute fielder in Australia, when Clarke and Hussey were enjoying themselves. It was nice to field for just less than 20 overs and get off, having wrapped up an innings.

From a personal and batting point of view, obviously it was disappointing getting out for 15, but I got a good ball and that will happen from time to time. At least the other guys cashed in and put the opposition under pressure by getting us past 300 and earning a big lead. I felt good in the week leading up to the game, but it wasn’t to be this time, and you can see from the amount of wickets that fell in the first session on days one and two that the morning was the most difficult time to bat. But, there’s nothing in my technique that I’m concerned about at the moment.

Generally, I’m very happy with how things are and I’m looking forward to batting in the second test in Port Elizabeth.

Until then.

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