Dane Piedt’s omission from the Proteas Test squad to face Bangladesh was a surprise to many, but not to him, as he aims to put in hard graft to work his way back to where he wants to be, writes Tom Sizeland.
The 2013-14 Sunfoil Series was a landmark campaign for Piedt, as the Cape Cobras off-spinner topped the wicket-taking charts with 45 from eight matches at just under 20 per scalp. With that came a much-deserved call-up to the Proteas squad to face Zimbabwe in August last year. He got his chance, and it took him just one delivery to make an impact.
He trapped Mark Vermeulen lbw with the very first ball of his Test career, before going on to take seven more wickets to earn the Man of the Match award. He set himself up for a promising international future, but that took a turn for the worse as he injured his shoulder fielding off his own bowling in a Champions League T20 match against the Hobart Hurricanes in September. It required surgery, and it ruled him out for over five months.
‘It was a frustrating period and it tested my patience,’ Piedt told SACricket mag. ‘It was very hard to watch from the sidelines. I put in long hours to recover and return to the action as quickly as possible.’
The 25-year-old struggled for form upon his return to first-class cricket. He posted figures of 1-162 in his comeback match for the Cobras against the Knights, and followed that up with disappointing accumulated figures of 5-384 from his two games for SA A against the England Lions.
Despite this, a call-up to the Proteas squad wasn’t out of the question, but the selectors opted for Simon Harmer and Aaron Phangiso instead, as Imran Tahir was also left out of the five-day frame. Piedt admitted, however, that he was not expecting to be selected.
‘The road to recovery was slow so I didn’t expect to be there,’ said Piedt. ‘I don’t want be brought back in and be undercooked. It will put me under pressure and I’ll risk never playing for South Africa ever again.’
The off-breaker is set to attend a winter camp for spinners to be led by former Proteas spinner Nicky Boje. The camp gets underway in Pretoria from June 15, and he feels it can only help his cause as he now aims to be a part of the SA A side which are set to head to India later in the year.
‘It will be good to get some overs under my belt,’ he said. He hopes the potential trip to India will keep him on the radar. ‘I love the sub-continent; the conditions are ideal for me, so all I can do is remind the selectors that I’m here.’
For Piedt, his exclusion from the side means he has a clean slate from which to work. The road back to the Proteas setup could be a long one, but he is determined to fight his way back in. ‘I need to get back to 100% to have a better idea of where my game is at. I just want to be back to the best I can be.’