Recently called up to the Proteas Test squad, Cape Cobras off-spinner Dane Piedt is looking forward to making an impact, writes Dan Gillespie.
Piedt described receiving the phone call from Andrew Hudson informing him of his selections as the fulfilment of a ‘childhood dream’, but admits he initially thought it might be a hoax. ‘He called me the Monday evening before the squad was announced to the media, and I had to ask him if it was a joke. It sounds like a cliché, but this is really something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a kid.’
It’s only been a week since he heard the news, but Piedt has already started focusing on the Sri Lanka tour, making sure he is in good shape by the time he ships out with the rest of the squad.
‘The fact that I’m going to be in a South African squad is slowly but surely starting to settle in. I’ve got straight back into the gym, and I’m keeping my mind on that. I don’t want to build up the call-up as something too big. If I do get selected in Sri Lanka, I will treat it as just another game, but at a higher level. I’ll still do the things that made me successful for the Cobras this past season.’
That included topping the wicket-takers chart in the Sunfoil Series, capturing 45 scalps at an average of 19.93. Piedt breaks down exactly why he was so successful. ‘The key is that I have been very relaxed at the bowling crease. Claude Henderson, my bowling coach, advised me to bowl with no clutter in my head. This past season was about consistently landing the ball in the right area, creating pressure and waiting for the batsman to make a mistake.
However, Peidt also added some variation, which Russell Domingo has said was one of the reasons for his selection to the Test squad. ‘In the winter I worked really hard on adding the doosra and carrom ball to my arsenal, but so far I only use them as genuine wicket-taking options for the tail. Every now and then I’ll slip one in to a top-order batsman, just to keep him honest.’
Now he will get a chance, if selected, to try his variation against some of the best players of spin in the world in Sri Lanka. But it’s the prospect of playing with the best from South Africa that Piedt is most looking forward to. ‘I’m excited to work under a new captain in Hashim. I spoke to him briefly at the CSA Awards last week, and he congratulated me and said he knew I would do well. I’m also really glad I’ll get the opportunity to work with guys I’ve looked up to since my school days, like Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers. It’s going to be a great learning experience.’