David Bedingham has followed a season at the Cobras with recognition in the Mzansi Super League, being purchased by the Cape Town Blitz for R180 000 in the 2019 player draft, writes Jonhenry Wilson in SA Cricket magazine.
You captained Boland before moving to the Cobras. meanwhile, Boland’s Dayyaan Galiem has joined the Titans. Are the small unions’ loss of players to big franchises indicative of an ideal feeder system?
I think it’s tough on teams like Boland because they want to win with the right players, but as a small union they can also take satisfaction from breeding players who are able to play at franchise level. It is always going to be tough on them, but the ultimate goal must be to produce franchise and Proteas cricketers – and that’s only really going to be done via franchise cricket rather than provincial cricket for the time being.
Cricket South Africa is proposing the disbanding of franchise cricket, with a top-flight provincial competition mooted for 2020. What’s your opinion?
I don’t know enough about what the proposed structure will look like yet, but at the moment there is an obvious gap between franchise and what we know as semi-professional cricket. If the structure is going to bring two divisions, that will effectively make it strength versus strength – and a healthy battle for promotion and bid to avoid relegation. People talk about how franchise and provincial statistics are lumped together as first-class cricket and the imbalance with that, but the change would also get rid of the argument about how three- and four-day match stats shouldn’t be categorised the same. The potential change will also expose more players at the highest level. For now, it’s just 66 guys in six franchise XIs at any given time. A dozen or more provincial teams at the top would double that number.
You trained with the Blitz for the 2018 MSL, but didn’t play a match. This year, though, you have gathered a formal berth in the squad. Do you feel validated?
I was hopeful of being chosen for the Mzansi Super League, but it came as a bit of a surprise getting picked as
early as round nine. I thought my name might only be called in the last round or so. I do back myself, but perhaps I should believe in myself as much as the Blitz coach Ashwell Prince does. I thought I played some decent T20 cricket last year, but I don’t think I have quite figured out how I want to play – and how to go about this. It will come, it’s a learning process. I know, though, that my options out in the middle will be attacking and positive rather than conservative. I like to attack the spinners, hitting them nicely from the crease, which a lot of other batmen don’t really do. I think my positive approach to the slower bowlers sets me apart from others.
Having worked with Prince at the Cobras and Blitz, do you feel he is well placed to join the Proteas’ coaching staff?
As a player, it’s comforting to know that he backs you, no matter which option you take out in the middle. He encourages you to play your natural game and he doesn’t put you down. He has backed me and others. His standards are high and he is a brilliant coach. He knows when it is time to work and when it is time to play. He expects 110% from his players, which is where we want to be at the Cobras. The Cobras franchise needs a professional like Prince. Perhaps the Proteas one day, too.
You were involved in a major car accident in December 2016 and spent several months on the sidelines. How did that affect your outlook on life?
It offered me a lot of perspective. Before the crash, I was doing OK in my cricket but I was putting way too much pressure on myself to score big runs. Cricket was my be-all and end-all of everything. Since the accident, I’ve come to understand that the sport is quite small in the big picture, and if a good cricket career is meant to be, it will be. After the time in hospital and rehabilitation, I was hungry to play again. I knew if cricket was meant to go well, it would go well. If not, I’m smart enough to pursue a degree or get a job. I put a lot less pressure on myself nowadays.
Who are the players you admire now and those you looked up to as a youngster?
Jacques Kallis was my boyhood hero. I went to the same high school he went to – Wynberg Boys’. His discipline on and off the field was always very good. That’s something I try to emulate in my career. More recently, Steve Smith has been excellent. His mental strength to come back from the ball-tampering saga has been outstanding. A lot of people don’t appreciate Virat Kohli, but I am a big fan of his as a person and cricketer. He’s hungry on the field and gracious off it, and he’s honest with himself and his team.
Does club cricket still have its place in the burgeoning career of a franchise cricketer?
It does, yes. I think it’s good that we play club cricket now and then, when Western Province or the Cobras don’t have any cricket on the go. Ashwell encourages this. The wickets are a lot tougher at club level – and the guys you play against place a target on your head. I like mixing with different people in club cricket; that’s where you build friendships and remain grounded.
What happens in your next few chapters ?
My dream is still to play for my country. Once you believe you can’t play for your country, though, you do have to look at options like Kolpak. There is obviously money and security abroad, as guys like Simon Harmer and Duanne Olivier have shown. One doesn’t always know how they will fare abroad, though, with the different conditions, pitches, lifestyle, etc. It’s different for everyone. Some are happy to take the risk to earn the money. Others are more family-orientated and might need to decide otherwise. I’m not there yet, but if I do get there, I’ll look at all the aspects with perspective and decide accordingly.