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A fun week before Headingley test

This week is all about the second test against England at Headingley in Leeds. But up until now, it’s been a fairly fun week after the first test at The Oval.

Last Tuesday was a complete day off, which is what we needed after an intense five days of cricket against England. Most of the guys used the time for some ‘retail therapy’ in London, spending their day in and around Piccadilly Circus.

I’m not much of a shopper though and I decided to catch up with some of the friends I made during my time playing county cricket for Glamorgan and Essex. Even when I’m out shopping with the wife, I’d rather spend my time waiting for her in a coffee shop than actually shopping. Having said that, if I am going to shop, I don’t mind checking out the latest electronics. What was great about that day is that it was a rare hot and sunny day in London and the guys all loved that.

On Wednesday, I opted for the gym while the majority of the guys went for a run and a stretch in Hyde Park. I just thought I could do with some fitness work on the treadmill as opposed to a recovery run, which was the purpose of the jog through Hyde Park. After that, it was on the bus for the trip to Worcester for the game against Worcestershire.

We all loved the fact that our hotel was in a rather remote location on a golf course. It also had a couple of restaurants, so the guys were all pretty happy with what we had. On Wednesday afternoon I got some golf in, playing with Vernon Philander, coach Gary Kirsten and fitness coach Rob Walter. I always enjoy playing with Vern, because it’s usually entertaining, particularly when he loses it, which is what happened on Wednesday. I’m a 15-handicap and Vern is a six, but he definitely brought his ‘Z-game’ on this occasion! Our four-ball actually didn’t last long, as we ended up splitting into two three-balls due to the fact that Albie Morkel didn’t pitch for the game behind us.

On Friday, it was into the tour game against Worcestershire and that was another good run-out for the boys. You would have seen that I had a couple of low scores, but I wasn’t that disappointed, as it’s not actually the same intensity as a test match. You try a few things in these practice matches and sometimes they don’t come off. As it is, I also got some valuable time in the nets, spent some time in the field and I'm generally happy with my preparation.

Sunday night was quite a bit of fun as the whole squad dressed up for a fancy dress evening. It was meant to be just one or two outfits, but everyone went the whole hog and dressed up and it was quite a sight. Kallis was dressed up as a hot dog, Duminy was a nurse, Walter was a banana, Steyn was a tiger and Morne Morkel had some kind of skeleton outfit on. It was such a fantastic evening and a great idea from coach Paddy Upton – cricket was the last thing on the guys’ minds and that was just perfect for the start of this week. In case you are wondering, I had a bit of a mix and match outfit – not a great effort, but I was calling myself an allrounder!

It’s difficult to ignore the Olympics going on in London and we were all so chuffed to see Cameron van der Burgh grab that gold medal – a real inspiration for all of us – and I hope we get to see some live action when we’re back in London next week.

Now we’re looking forward to the important game at Headingley. There’s been some talk about Headingley traditionally favouring the seam bowlers, but we’re really not paying too much attention to that. We’ll play the conditions as they present themselves on day one. As I said before, all we can do is focus on our processes and if we get that right, I personally think there can only be one winner.

Being 1-0 down, England may try and gamble, but that could play into our hands. Either way, it’s going to be one heck of a game.

I can’t wait!

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