The cherry on top of a great year
Well, this is a bit of a shock to the system. Having spent the last couple of months in the heat of India and then enjoyed a nine-day break in sunny Mauritius, I come back to sub-zero temperatures and suddenly I’m sleeping with the Polar Bears!
It really is cold in Johannesburg, but, to be honest, that’s the least of my worries as I’ve had a great week back in South Africa and I can say that at least the welcome has been warm!
On top of that, I was really chuffed to pick up the MTN40 Cricketer of the Year award at the SA Cricket Awards, for my performances in that domestic competition. It was really special for me. It was the first time I had my green and gold South African blazer on at an official function and all the nominees had video clips of their performances played on a big screen. Further to that, there is a lot of history and there were some big names at the event. So, all in all, a really memorable occasion. Receiving the award was just the cherry on top of a great year for me.
It’s been a busy week and it’s great to see that Cricket SA have managed to get Gary Kirsten to take over as coach of the national team. Personally, I think he’s the best guy for the job, particularly if one takes into account what he achieved with India, in winning the World Cup. In terms of what I think he’ll bring to the role – I think he’ll bring an intellectual and calm presence to it. A big plus for me is that it hasn’t been too long since he retired from international cricket, so his mind is still fresh with what needs to be done, from a modern cricket perspective. He’s a modern coach and the game has moved in that direction, so I’m really looking forward to working with him.
It’ll also be exciting to have Allan Donald on board as bowling coach. I spoke to him during the World Cup and he made it quite clear that he’d love to be a part of South African cricket. So, for him, also, I think it’s a dream come true. Even though I bowl leg-spin, I think he’ll still have plenty to offer me, in terms of advice, as he’s seen his fair share of quality spin bowling.
The other thing I’ve enjoyed is seeing AB de Villiers get the one-day captaincy. We’ve been close friends since primary school days and I’m really chuffed for my old mate. We actually played against each other at primary school, but then we both went on to Affies for high school, where we played in all the cricket teams together. We were also room-mates in hostel and it was probably then that we became really close mates and started enjoying each other’s success on the sports field.
AB always did really well in all sports at school. He was a scratch-handicap golfer; I think he was the number two ranked tennis player in the country, in his age-group, at one stage etc. So, he was a really excellent sportsman and it was something that came easy to him. Then, after school, he was quickly in the Titans side at 18 and moved on quickly up to the national team after that. I was a little slower, playing for the Titans at 19, but there was never a case of me being jealous of his success, because he deserved everything and took all of his chances. It’s just nice for me now to play alongside him, again.
In terms of AB as a captain, he’s already made it clear that he’s aware that he’s inexperienced, but it’s going to be interesting to see what style he brings to the role. When it comes to AB as a person, one of his biggest attributes is that he always puts the team first and for me that’s a huge thing for a captain. On top of that, and the way he’s playing at the moment, he’s one of South Africa’s top players, if not the top player, in all forms of the game. That’s also important, because he’s someone who performs consistently and is one of the first names on the team-sheet. So, it’s going to be interesting, also because, for the first time, he’s going to captain me, whereas I’ve always been his captain!
I’ve got some time off now, but it won’t be long before we’re preparing for the new season. We’ve also got JP Duminy’s wedding to look forward to and I’ve got a club cricket stint in the UK coming up. I’ll be in touch.