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Workouts, public snoozes and a 'shebeen'

Greetings from Sydney where we’ve just wrapped up a three-day game against Australia A.

All in all, a good workout for both bowlers and batters, and we’re pretty happy with how it went. I managed to get 24 not out and bowled six overs without success, but it was nice to be involved. That being said, at this stage, I’m not expecting to be called up for the first test, which kicks off in Brisbane on Friday.

With the success of the test team in England just a couple of months ago, I’d be very surprised if the selectors don’t go with the same 11 that played the third test in the UK. The only guys missing in the warm-up game were Jacques Kallis and Morne Morkel, but they’ve played a lot of cricket over the past couple of months, so they deserved a rest. Kallis has also been a bit sick, but he’s expected to be ready for Brisbane. I’m obviously here as back-up, should I be needed.

We’ve been here just over a week and it’s taken us this long to overcome the jet lag and get our bodies adjusted. You may recall me mentioning this before on previous, similar tours. It just doesn’t get any easier and some feel the effects more than others.

The process has been made slightly easier by the fact that we are in one of the more beautiful cities in the world. I had heard about what Sydney had to offer, but I was blown away by my first impressions of the city. It’s a really modern, clean and ‘happening’ place, with loads of bars and restaurants with lots to do as well. So, I’ve been impressed and Sydney is already up there as one of my favourite cities.

Aside from that, the focus, like I said, has been on sleeping, and I think this squad has set a record for the amount of public sleeping that has taken place! The first couple of nights a few of us found ourselves struggling to get to sleep, and then waking up at about two or three in the morning. My approach was to take a sleeping tablet for the first six or seven nights and that seemed to work as my body adjusted. But, it’s obviously not ideal.

There hasn’t been much in the way of official functions, but we did have a great evening at a restaurant owned by a South African guy. His place was full of South African products, so we tucked into things like boerewors, chicken livers, Fanta Grape etc – things that are definitely South African – and it was also a great setting, a bit like a South African shebeen.

I’ve also been amazed at just how expensive Sydney is. You pay about 40 or 50 Aussie dollars at a restaurant for a decent main meal, and that works out to just under R400-R500.

Now it’s all systems go towards the first test. We’ve been speaking about it and the conditions we’re likely to face, because the Gabba in Brisbane is renowned for its pace and bounce, which is different from the conditions we’ve just faced in Sydney.

Fortunately, the nets in Sydney had some pace and bounce, so that helped with the preparations. We will run through our processes in the coming days and the guys will all be ready for the opening game of the series. As it is, the batters all look like they are hitting the ball really well and our bowlers are fit. So, we’re in good shape.

As always, when these two countries are involved, I’m sure it’s going to be a cracker.

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