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Home comforts and new challenges

It’s been a great week or so back in South Africa following the disappointing World Twenty20 campaign in Sri Lanka, which saw us go out way too early.

The flight home was pretty miserable and the guys were all incredibly downbeat. That flight involved a layover in Dubai and I remember sitting in the airport, seeing South African supporters walk past and feeling quite embarrassed about our early exit from the tournament. I was probably being way too sensitive, but we do feel like we let a lot of people down.

It was, therefore, great to come home to family and friends and spend some time with loved ones. After touring for a couple of months, the last thing I wanted to do was go out for dinner at a restaurant as that is all you do in the evenings on tour. So, to be able to braai at home with mates was really special. I also enjoyed a round or two of golf with some family members. Once you’ve been away for so long, you really do appreciate simple pleasures like home-cooked meals. Also the sub-continent doesn’t have great golf courses, so I made sure I cashed in back home.

Now the focus shifts to the Karbonn Smart Champions League Twenty20 here in South Africa. Albie Morkel and I were meant to join up with our IPL team, the Chennai Super Kings on October 8 as they get first call on their players for tournaments like these. But we asked coach Stephen Fleming for just a day or two extra, which was granted. I just really needed to recharge the batteries before playing serious cricket again.

Once that was over, we joined up with our teammates at practice and it was great seeing them again. I’ve also been watching some of the tournament’s qualifying action on TV to keep an eye on some of the opposition, as well as see how some of the wickets have played. I’ve been really surprised with the wickets and how much movement there has been off the deck, which will make it a real challenge for the batters -- particularly if you’re facing the new ball.

It’s been quite nice being the ‘host’ of the squad, as all the guys who haven’t been to South Africa before have been asking me about the place and where to go etc. I’m looking forward to travelling round the country with the guys.

Before I go, just a word on the West Indies winning the World Twenty20. I think they thoroughly deserved it. I remember chatting with some guys just after the IPL and saying that the West Indies are really dangerous in Twenty20 cricket and possibly had the strongest side on paper, because they have about seven or eight really destructive players or match winners.

It was just a question of whether or not they could produce consistently, which they did in Sri Lanka. Their talent was never in question. It was also nice seeing them perform in the final, even when Chris Gayle didn’t come off. So, they weren’t a one-man team. World cricket needs a strong West Indies team and the players are real characters, so I hope this is the boost they need to be a world force again.

I hope to report back on some Champions League Twenty20 success with the Super Kings next week. I’m also wishing my South African franchise, the Titans, well, and it will be interesting if we come up against each other in a crunch match. I hope that doesn’t happen!

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