Greetings from a Brisbane hotel room, late at night on the day the first test against Australia ended in a draw. I’m pretty exhausted after a couple of days of chasing leather, with Michael Clarke helping himself to a double hundred, and Mike Hussey and Ed Cowan both scoring hundreds. Reminds me of the last time I fielded for the South African test team for a prolonged period, which was at Headingley in Leeds a couple of months ago, when Alviro Petersen was down and Kevin Pietersen smashed our guys to all corners of the ground. Maybe it’s me?
Of course, I was only fielding for this long during this test match, because of the horrible injury to JP Duminy. By now, everyone knows about his awful Achilles tendon injury a couple of nights ago. It was after play on day one, and I found myself grabbing an early dinner at the ground with a couple of teammates. We saw someone getting carried into the changeroom, but couldn’t see straight away who it was. We promptly rushed there to find JP in agony and it was clear very quickly that it was very serious.
All of us got that cold feeling and it wasn’t something I remember fondly. JP is one of the biggest team guys, and while it’s never nice to see to see any teammate in that sort of pain, it was made even worse by the fact that JP is who he is, and is such an important part of our team.
At that stage, I definitely wasn’t thinking of how his injury impacted on me, even though I’m in Australia as the back-up test batsman. It was more a case of feeling bad for a teammate and close friend. But obviously, once it dawned on me, I realised that I might be in line to play in the next test match.
So, it was very much a case of mixed emotions. You know, normally, when you’re in a squad as a back-up player and you get the call to play, it’s a really exciting time and you can’t wait to get cracking. But here, even though there’s no guarantee that I will get called up for the Adelaide test, it was tough to come to terms with, because of the situation whereby I might benefit from a mate’s injury. It’s fair to say that I didn’t have any good emotions and my concern was more for JP.
All of that being said, I’ve now had the time to reflect on what it means, and it appears as though I may get the chance to play in Adelaide, if it’s a straight swap of me for JP. If that happens, it would be incredible, as this has always been my goal. Then it’s a case of making the most of the opportunity.
In terms of this test match in Brisbane, like I said earlier, it was a long time in the field, although the final day was made a little better by the catch I managed to take, helping get rid of Hussey.
Now the next few days are about anything other than cricket, with the squad splitting up to enjoy some down time across Australia. A few of us – Smith, Kallis, Steyn, Morkel, Duminy, De Villiers and fitness coach Rob Walter, are heading to the Sunshine Coast for some golf and relaxing. There I’m expecting Jacques and Rob to play golf every day, whilst the rest of us relax on the beach and play the odd game. A couple of us have our partners with us, so it’s going to be great to switch off from cricket for a bit, which I’m a big believer in. So, we’re going to be jumping in a mini-bus, whilst some of the other guys are going diving and fishing.
Others are staying in Brisbane, whilst Alviro is heading to Adelaide to visit a friend. One of the things I’m looking forward to is visiting the Australia Zoo, which is apparently very impressive and was home to the late Steve Irwin, that nutty Australian guy who just loved animals.
I think the management are spot-on, in terms of this down time, and I think we’ll come back refreshed and raring to go for the second test in Adelaide.