Titans leg-spinner Shaun von Berg admitted that he thought his dream of playing for the Proteas had slipped away.
The 31-year-old Titans bowler was named in the 15-man Proteas squad as one of three spinners along with Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi.
But it wasn’t always a certainty that he would represent his country.
‘At one stage‚ I didn’t think it was going to happen when I broke my finger about three years ago‚’ he said. ‘I was basically out of action for the entire season and it was not looking too good. But I managed to come back stronger and kept on performing.
‘It’s a dream come true‚ it is every boy’s dream from a young age and it is just that it took a little bit longer than some of the other guys.’
Having been apart of a previous spin bowling camp in Sri Lanka, Von Berg is confident he can draw experience from his time playing in sub-continental conditions.
Von Berg finished with 29 wickets in nine matches this season’s Sunfoil Series and is expected to be more lethal in conditions which suit spin-bowling.
‘One of the spin bowling camps that I attended with the Proteas was in Sri Lanka and I sort of know the conditions a little bit having bowled there once‚’ he said.
‘I have not played in a competitive match but you still have to bowl your best ball every time as much as you can.
‘The other important thing is that the pace you are going to bowl must make a difference and you must have the right pace to bowl at them. It is always nice to tour the sub-continent.
‘I have been going there for a while on camps and you learn something every time. I spoke more to the coaches about game plans‚ field placings and stuff like that.
‘I always like to listen to the coaches when they speak to the batters so that I can think more like a batsman instead of a bowler.’
The leg-spinner’s unusual bowling style is extremely similar to Shane Warne, but he insisted that his action is natural and he never attempted to mimic the Australia legend.
‘I watched him a bit when he was playing at the back end of his career but I didn’t try to copy him‚’ he said.
‘The action I have now is natural and it is nice to hear people compare me to him. I actually bowled in-swingers when I was young and my slower ball was a leg-spinner and guys got stumped.
‘As the years went on‚ it sort of came naturally‚” he said‚ adding that he has also worked on his batting over the past few seasons.
‘It all started when former coach Rob Walter was at the Titans because he put me under pressure to score runs at the bottom end of the innings and I changed my mindset.
‘Mark Boucher also put me under a lot of pressure to score runs and he always tells me when I am doing wrong.’
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images