Andile Phehlukwayo wasn’t expecting his call up to the Proteas ODI side to face Australia.
The young seamer struck a delicate balance between characteristic modesty and assured ambition, after being named in the squad.
Phehlukwayo impressed during South Africa A’s tour of Australia in August and preceding fixtures against Zimbabwe A in Bulawayo, prompting selection for the Proteas ahead of a string of other right-arm seamers.
While the talented Dane Paterson, Sisanda Magala, Malusi Siboto and Dwaine Pretorius remain on the relative outskirts – although the latter has been included in the squad for late September’s one-off ODI against Ireland in Benoni – the 20-year-old Phehlukwayo has deservedly upstaged the pecking order.
‘I don’t really think I bring anything dramatically different. I probably have a few more skills – slower balls, cutters, good control – that other bowlers might not have. Being able to take wickets at certain stages of the game is important, and just contributing to the team effort is important. But I don’t think I’m anything special, when compared to other right-arm seamers at my level,’ Phehlukwayo tells SA Cricket magazine.
‘It was my first time in Australia – and I really enjoyed the good cricketing conditions. I really came to learn a lot, playing at that level, against such strong opposition. I really didn’t think getting picked for the Proteas would happen so soon. This has taken me by surprise. It is an honour and a privilege to be selected for South Africa. I’m overwhelmed and really excited for the journey ahead.’
Phehlukwayo acknowledges the need to bowl relatively economically – and deliver yorkers with greater regularity – in limited-overs cricket. His determination to do so was partly evident in Australia, but certainly requires honing.
‘It’s a good skill to have, something you need to and must have in your ammunition as a bowler. It is something I have been getting to grips with, something I haven’t really done much of in my career. It’s a challenge, bowling at the death, and I’m still learning. You never know if it is going to go well or not – a good day or a bad day. You just prepare well and hope for the best,’ he says.
He, too, is eager to afford senior stars AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy and company insight into Australia’s new-look seam attack. With the overworked Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood rested for the series against South Africa, the uncapped Daniel Worrall, Joe Mennie and Chris Tremain have been included in the ODI squad. The trio were all on display during South Africa A and Australia A’s recent battles.
‘Those guys deserve their spots in the Australian side. You can see, by their performances when we were over in Australia, that they’ve worked hard during their seasons – and now they’ve got the rewards. I do think I’ve got some ideas to share with my team-mates about each of them – and hopefully I can contribute those when ask, or just offer them. I can share with the team about what type of bowlers they are – what their strengths and maybe some weaknesses are. That could give us an upper hand, yes,’ says Phehlukwayo.
Tipped as an all-rounder by some, but labelled inadequate with the bat by others, Phehlukwayo struggled to justify occupying the No 8 berth for South Africa A. While a string of low scores during the limited-overs leg suggested he be pushed down the order, a mature first-class 55 on a challenging pitch in Brisbane promised more. Last season’s experience alongside former England batsman Kevin Pietersen and ex-Proteas all-rounder Lance Klusener, at the Dolphins, has largely inspired the Durbanite to take greater responsibility at the crease.
‘Kevin brought a lot of good stuff to the team – and my batting, a bit. He was a massive influence. We all know he is world class, I don’t need to state that, but he is world class. He is a special guy. He is probably misunderstood by outsiders, but when you get to know him as a person and cricketer, you understand that he is an outstanding individual – and great cricketer,’ enthused Phehlukwayo.
‘I’ve under-performed with the bat – and disappointed myself. But I know I am capable of doing much better than I can do better. I know that, with time, I will get much better – and become very, very effective with the bat. Lance is definitely a guy I admire. I’d like to play the same brand of cricket that he played – winning games, being important to the result of a match or series.’
Written by Jonhenry Wilson, a freelance cricket writer for ESPNCricinfo among others.
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