SA Cricket magazine spoke exclusively to South African batsman Farhaan Behardien about his tough time endured in Sri Lanka last year, his burgeoning role with the ball, preferred position in the batting order, World Cup ambition – amongst other things.
SA Cricket: Congratulations on the recall to South Africa’s squad, for next month’s Twenty20 International series against Australia.
Behardien: It’s a very good feeling. It is always a privilege and an honour to represent your country in any way, form, shape or size. Representing your country is a massive honour, so I’m pretty excited.
SAC: You managed just three runs in as many innings in the ODI series against Sri Lanka in July 2013, but still gained selection for the World Twenty20 earlier this year.
Behardien: I had a really tough time in Sri Lanka, it was a really tough tour – certainly. Getting recalled to go to the World Twenty20 was a real boost, for me and my game. Getting called up again is always a good thing. My focus now is to just be as consistent as I can be and keep pressing to stay in the side. The World Twenty20 was awesome. I did not get a lot of opportunity, but I did play against England and Sri Lanka. The loss of confidence from the Sri Lanka tour, it took a while to get over that. But I had a good domestic T20 campaign after that – and got into the World Twenty20 squad. I’ve had a good start to the season this time around, getting some good runs against the Lions, with the premier fast-bowling unit, on a fast pitch, so it bodes well.
SAC: How has your mindset changed since the last time you played international cricket, almost eight months ago?
Behardien: One thing that I have taken out of the last several months is the experience playing in the United Kingdom. I played club cricket there, for Heywood Cricket Club in Manchester, and did well. I then got called up to the South African A side, for the unofficial Test matches and the one-day games in Australia. In doing so, in doing very well there, I’ve gained some confidence. I think confidence is a massive thing going forward. It’s a massive thing going forward. Confidence is a big thing in sport. The fact that I’m confident and performed well, toured well – hopefully that will keep me going.
SAC: What is your preferred position in the batting order? Perhaps you’ve been pigeonholed as a finisher.
Behardien: I think I’m generally suited to go in at five. But my game has evolved over the last while, at the back end of the innings. I will say that coach Rob Walters at the Titans has given me more responsibility, coming higher up the order. It is not so much the position I bat in a particular group. It’s more about the situation. If the situation is primed for me to bat then and there, the position doesn’t seem to matter – whether it is earlier or later. Instead of being a cliched finisher-type player, I think my game has evolved away from that role. Not to say I have neglected that role, I still do it really well. But I’ve adapted and am learning from it.
SAC: While improbable, a berth in the South African squad for next year’s World Cup in Australasia won’t be impossible to achieve.
Behardien: I’m pushing very hard to being in the ODI squad again. My focus has shifted a bit regarding my domestic game this particular season. My four-day, longer version game has not been good over the last couple of seasons. The confidence in the long version can translate to confidence in the short format. I want to go to the World Cup next year – if I can crack the 15-man squad. I’m going to push hard. I wasn’t going to go to Bangladesh for the World Twenty20, but form in the right time and in the right place can sway the selectors. That is a goal, 100 percent, I want to get into that World Cup squad. I will be fighting tooth and nail to get into that squad. Whoever the incumbent is will be fighting too. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there – and I just want to try and crank up the pressure on the incumbent in the ODI squad. Hopefully a few good performances in the T20Is will see me push for an ODI recall.
SAC: With six ODI wickets, an international bowling average of just 20.66 and a burgeoning role with the ball for the Titans too, do you fancy yourself as somewhat of an all-rounder?
Behardien: I used to be a first-change bowler at school and when I was playing for the University of Cape Town. My bowling, I have been working hard on it in the last couple of months. Going into the limited-overs formats, there is a role for it. The Titans have been dominated by all-rounders like David Wiese and Albie Morkel, so I’ve been a bit unfortunate not to get more of a shot with the ball. If I do go up a level, to the ODI team or the T20I team, I would be required to bowl probably, so it is something I am working on really hard. Hopefully I will prove fruitful if the opportunity presents itself.
SAC: You will be playing under stand-in captain JP Duminy, who has been promoted in the absence of the rested Faf du Plessis, in Australia.
Behardien: It is exciting that JP has been appointed. I haven’t connected as much with JP as I have with Faf, who is a good friend of mine. This is an exciting time for JP. He has obviously shown a lot of leadership qualities within the group. He will rise to the challenge. He commands some respect within the group – and I am looking forward to playing under him.
SAC: Your Titans team-mates Marchant de Lange and David Wiese, meanwhile, have also been recalled by the national selectors.
Behardien: Marchant, unfortunately, last year he was a bit injury-prone. He had quite a serious stress fracture and a bad muscle problem in his stomach. We toured Australia together recently – and to see him bowling again is an exciting thing for South African cricket. David, yes, he is a great cricketer. He bowls well and hits the ball a long way with those long levers of his. He is quite excited to be in the set-up again. He was a bit down in the dumps with regard to his own game – but he has another opportunity here. With Albie injured, the chance is there for David again. It’s a tribute to the Titans, having three or four players in the South African squad.
Interview by Jonhenry Wilson