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Good to be back in SA

It’s great to be home, having been away for so long with the IPL.

On top of that, I picked up a virus in my final week in India, which made getting home an even bigger thing. Unfortunately, that virus came at the wrong time, as we had the big knockout game against the Kings XI Punjab. There was absolutely no doubt that I was going to play.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for us and we were outplayed by a better side that actually beat us three times in this year’s competition. We gave ourselves a chance with Suresh Raina playing like a legend, with 87 from just 25 balls, but it wasn’t to be.

I saw something in the press afterwards that Dhoni had criticised some of the international players but there was nothing like that in the change room – we just lost to a better side. I also think the two best sides ended up in the final, and it was a great final, with a fantastic run chase from the Kolkata Knight Riders.

The big news is obviously the appointment of Hashim as the new Proteas test captain. I’m very chuffed for him and I think it’s a great decision. I’m also looking forward to the calming influence he’ll bring to the test team. It’s no secret that I was in the running for the job and did get an interview for it. Andrew Hudson, the head of the selectors, very kindly called the day before the announcement to explain the reasons for Hashim’s appointment. He didn’t have to do that, but I appreciate the gesture.

Hash is a great leader and a guy with a lot of experience and a lot of respect from the players. He’s also someone who’s worked hard at his batting, to the point that he’s now one of the best players in the world. Hash’s personality will make this transition a smooth one and I don’t expect too much change, because of the structures Graeme put in place. Another thing I think Hash will bring to the captaincy is intelligence. He’s a very intelligent guy and gives a lot of thought to everything he does. When he speaks, he doesn’t do it for the sake of speaking.

Very simply, I think Hash will do brilliantly and he’s going to get 100 per cent support from both AB and myself. Obviously this announcement once again creates the scenario of three Proteas captains, but I actually think it’s a good thing. I feel you need a break as captain to recharge and focus on your individual game once in a while. So, the three of us will get that in the different formats.

It’s also great to be back in the ODI squad, particularly with the World Cup less than a year away. It was disappointing when I lost my place late last year, but I understood the reasons, with Jacques Kallis coming back into the mix. I was occupying the No 3 spot at the time, so he slotted into that position and I lost out.

At this stage, I’m not sure what role the selectors have lined up for me, but it looks like it could be in the middle order, as Quinton and Hash look to have the opening spots nailed down. Then there’s Jacques at three, AB at four and JP at five. I may have to compete with David Miller at six. In saying that, there is a lot of ODI cricket between now and the World Cup early next year. I will just need to take any opportunity that comes my way, and if that is just as a squad member and contributing that way, then so be it. I just want to add value.

It’s great to see some new caps on the test squad. I haven’t played against Dane Piedt in four-day cricket, but I’m excited to see what he can do. He’s obviously had a great season with the Cobras, as has Stiaan van Zyl. So, I think the message is great, that if you perform domestically you will get the chance to play for the national team.

I’m now looking forward to some time off, and will be getting away to the bush and to Cape Town in the coming weeks. It’s been a long, hard slog in the IPL, and it’s just great to be back in South Africa.

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