Success in Zim and hats off to Proteas
It’s good to be back home after my latest stint in Zimbabwe with the South Africa ‘A’ team. It was great to come home with some silverware, having won the triangular one-day series that also involved Zimbabwe ‘A’ and Sri Lanka ‘A’.
To be honest, I wasn’t wild about being back in Zimbabwe, just a few weeks after being there with the Proteas. But, once the cricket got going, I was much happier and just focused on doing a good job. The cricket itself was quite tough and the wickets didn’t make it any easier – there were a lot of low scores. But, I was happy with my form and the fact that I averaged around 50 for the week.
I also really enjoyed being captain. I’ve always been a bit of a thinker on the field, even when I haven’t been captain. I’ll think about how we can get a wicket or how we can change the game. I was fortunate to have a good team at my disposal and most times, when I tried things, they came off in Zimbabwe. I know that won’t always be the case, but it was very satisfying to successfully put into action some of my cricket theories – some of which were outside the box.
In terms of off-the-field activities in Zim, we didn’t get up to too much, with the focus very much being on the cricket. Also, we didn’t have our own transport and the good restaurants were a decent taxi ride away. With a round-trip costing around 40 dollars, it was a pretty expensive exercise heading out to dinner in the evening. Most of the time, it was just more convenient and cheaper to stay at the team hotel.
With regards the players who played under me, I was impressed with a number of them and it seemed as if everyone chipped in. That’s why I think we were successful and someone always stepped up to the plate.
Talking about stepping up to the plate, I can’t tell you just how impressive the Proteas' test win over England at The Oval was. It was pretty much close to the perfect game if you take away the first day, when England got themselves into a good position.
South Africa’s number one, three and four in the batting order were unbelievable and the hundreds they scored speak volumes. Obviously, Hashim Amla's triple century stands out and it was a really special knock. Hash is just so mentally strong and what’s amazing is the fact that he never seems to get bored, even when he’s batting for long periods. He just stays in his own bubble and waits for the ball to come to him. Jacques Kallis also has that ability. You compare those two guys to someone like Kevin Pietersen, who you always feel you’ve got a chance with because of the strokes he plays.
For the Proteas to be 1-0 up in a three-test series is massive and I just hope they can finish the job. England will need to play some serious cricket to win this series, and with there being a fair amount of draws more recently at Lord’s –the third test venue – it could be even more difficult for the home side. I just like the balance of the South African side – I’ve already spoken about the batting, but the bowling is incredible, with so much variety. There’s pace (Dale Steyn), swing and seam (Vernon Philander and Kallis), bounce (Morne Morkel), reverse swing and spin (Imran Tahir). So, Graeme Smith really does have great options, and that showed in the first test.
Next up for the SA ‘A’ team is our trip to Ireland next week. So, a week at home and some time to enjoy being back with family and friends before heading off again.