What a year it’s been so far for Eddie Leie. A solid showing in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge led to a successful auction bid from the St Lucia Zouks in the Caribbean Premier League. Now he has a spot in the SA A side to face India in July/August and to top it all off, he’s in the Proteas T20 squad to face Bangladesh, writes Tom Sizeland.
‘The hard work only starts now,’ Leie admitted to SACricketmag.com. ‘I’m very excited to be in the Proteas setup. It’s been a dream of mine and I’m happy that its happening now.’
Despite making his debut for Gauteng 10 years ago, Leie, 28, hasn’t always found it easy to break into the Highveld Lions. He grabbed everyone’s interest in last year’s Ram Slam T20 Challenge however, as he finished joint-second on the wicket-taking charts with 14, but even more admirably, achieved a run-rate below six an over – a rarity in the game’s shortest format.
‘At the Lions we’ve always had a strong lineup of spinners who have performed consistently well, so to get into the franchise was hard. But I always wanted to make sure I was ready and when I finally had the chance, I took it,’ said Leie, who only made his professional T20 debut in January 2013.
He was humble on his rapid rise to the top of the pile. ‘A lot of experienced guys around me helped. Alviro [Petersen], Neil [McKenzie] and Phangy [Aaron Phangiso] sat me down and told me what was required to make it.’
On his successful Ram Slam campaign, he sang the same tune. ‘I’m lucky to be bowling in an attack with Rabada, Morris and Viljoen. Those guys always struck up front; there were rare occasions when the batsmen were set and when you take wickets, the economy rate takes care of itself.’
An exciting but extremely busy period now approaches for Leie. Earlier in the year he was bought by the St Lucia Zouks in the Caribbean Premier League, where he will play alongside the likes of Darren Sammy, Kevin Pietersen and Ross Taylor. His spell in the West Indies begins on June 21, but it will overlap with the two T20s against Bangladesh and the SA A series against India.
‘I haven’t had a break,’ said Leie. ‘I’ve been busy the whole of the off-season in preparation for the Caribbean tournament, but the hard work only starts now.’
He will be competing with teammate Phangiso for a place in the Proteas T20 side, and his selection for the SA A List A squad will allow him to build towards higher honours in the 50-over game. But with so much on his plate now, he’s not looking too far ahead.
‘I’m not thinking about the World T20 next year, to be honest I didn’t even know it was happening. Being selected for the Proteas squad is a great start and I’m glad my hard work has been recognised, but now I will prepare and train as hard as I can and if I get a chance, I will take it with both hands.’