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Frustration - and the captaincy

It’s a bit disappointing to be sitting out when we’re at the crunch stage of the IPL. I worked so hard to get myself a place in the starting eleven of the Chennai Super Kings, and after taking my chance, I’m now being left out.

It’s a bit of a mystery, but the message I’ve got from management is that while I was sitting out for three games with that virus, Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay started playing well together as an opening pair. So, they are reluctant to change a winning combination. Unfortunately, I’m the one to lose out. What’s even more frustrating is that I’m now 100 per cent, but can’t get back in the side.

I guess that’s professional sport, but as a cricketer you want to be playing in the big games and that’s where we are now. It’s actually a bit unbelievable that we managed to qualify for the playoffs after playing sub-standard cricket for some time. As it is, we snuck into that playoff game against the Mumbai Indians, but only because three results went our way. It was quite incredible. Sometimes you need one result to go your way, but getting three in our favour really was something else. We were very lucky.

What I can say about my teammates, though, is that they know how to win the big games. After getting into that playoff with the Mumbai Indians, they produced arguably their best performance of the season. The only other performance this year that compares was that big run chase against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Otherwise, it was the top performance of the season from my guys. To do it in a big game was an even greater achievement.

It helps to have big-game players in the Chennai side, and with that in mind, you obviously look at captain MS Dhoni, who turned it on against the Indians with 51 not out from just 20 balls. I think, in the past, we’ve been reliant on the Indian batters, such as Dhoni, Vijay, Raina and Badrinath. But this year, some of the big performances have come from the overseas players, such as Dwayne Bravo, Albie Morkel and myself. So, there’s good balance now.

At the time of writing, we were due to play the Delhi Daredevils in the second qualifying match – effectively a semifinal – with a place in the final against the Kolkata Knight Riders as the prize. As it stands, we’re looking good, but we’ll have to see how we go and I’ll report back after the weekend.

Just a word on the announcement this week that I will captain the South Africa A side to take on Sri Lanka A in two ‘test’ matches and contest a triangular one-day series with the Sri Lankans and Zimbabwe A. It’s a great honour and I’m really chuffed. Obviously, the potential deal with English county Somerset had to fall by the wayside as a result, but this is a great opportunity.

Most importantly, it means I’m a step closer to a place in the South African test side and that my results in the four-day game over the past season or so have been recognised. It’s been a real challenge to perform in the longer form of the game and to get people to look at me as a complete player and not just a one-day player. It’s been a lot of hard work, but I’m really grateful that it has paid off. I’m also really grateful to the national selectors for giving me the opportunity. Ultimately, I want to play for my country in all three forms of the game.

For now, though, the focus is on the last few days of IPL 2012. I hope to play some role over the coming days, but it’s out of my hands. At the very least, I hope to report back as an IPL winner early next week.

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