Playing India was a turning point in my career

Published: Friday, October 20, 2000, 18:23 [IST]
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How did it feel to tour India in 1991 for the historic One-day series?

In fact, I would say that was the turning point in my career. It opened up our real careers and financial gains also. We came for only 10-12 days and we were played only three One-dayers and at that time we didn't have much knowledge of the international cricket.

Somebody told us that we should have played Pakistan first, but it was really very nice to play India first as they were the real supporters for our re-entry. We lost the first two games, but won the last at New Delhi and realised that we can win too.

It was indeed unbelievable that on our first tour we could win. And indeed it was fantastic and a sight to behold as we played our first One-day International in front of one lakh spectators at Eden Gardens. We also met Mother Teresa and it was indeed a touching moment. On the whole, we attended some 10-12 functions in equal number of days, but it was a real tour from any point of view.

What was your best moment as an all-rounder?

Well I wouldn't like to pinpoint any particular series because for me each match was of equal importance and so was every series. Probably I was happy scoring my first ton against Pakistan and a century against England. But to me the tour of England was the most memorable for me because on that tour we defeated England at Lord's and that was something special.

As a bowler did you believe in being very aggressive towards the batsman and didn't mind getting him bloody?

I think first of all each and every bowler should play the game fairly and the nasty things come second. Okay, I wouldn't do that or subscribe to that view but as long as I played I played the game the hard way, bowled some short-pitched stuff and no fast bowlers would like to get hit, so naturally they would show their aggro.

Did you model your game on any particular cricketer?

Oh yes. When I was bowling I loved to imitate Sir Richard Hadlee and when I was batting I loved to bat like Viv Richards. I also liked the approach of Ian Botham and Clive Rice. These were the few players for whom I still have great regards.

You were an exceptional slip catcher, can you recollect some memorable catches?

Yes I have taken few exceptional catches in the slips and it was the position that I really enjoyed fielding most. The one I remember best was the catch of Ajay Jadeja in the third Test at Kingsmead when Jadeja was batting. I was in the second slip and Jimmy Cook in the third slip.

We went across and I took the catch absolutely behind the third slip when I the totally unsighted. The second good catch was in England when Fannie was bowling to Graeme Hick. The batsman chased the wide one from Fannie and I took a one-handed catch, which was incredible.

Are you happy with your career?

Yes, I am. Because I didn't have any big milestones in my mind. When I was bowling I always wanted to take five wickets and when I was batting I wanted to score a ton. But overall, I think I have done a reasonably good job for my country and to be very frank I was really lucky to play for my country as number of players couldn't because of Apartheid.

What is the secret of South Africa's success?

I would attribute our success to our hard work. When we re-entered international cricket we knew that we had to prove and show our class and we almost managed it in our first year itself. Fortunately we did have and we still do have some wonderful players who really made all the difference. But I think it was our hunger to play cricket at the international level, which made us more committed side and there lies our success story.

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