Taking a wicket with his first ball and making his Test debut at the Wanderers helped to settle his nerves, says Hardus Viljoen.
The fast bowler made a dream start to his international career hitting a four off his first ball faced and taking a wicket with his first ball.
He is only the second cricketer to achieve this feat, and was still feeling the after-effects of the emotions at stumps on day two.
‘Wow, it’s still unreal,’ Viljoen told the media at a press conference after the day’s play. ‘I actually had a bit of a claw with the first ball. The adrenalin was pumping, and the nerves were going, I was lucky enough to get a wicket with the first ball and that just settled the nerves.
‘It definitely allowed me to settle the nerves and stopped me from leaking runs early on in the spell which can happen when you are making your debut and you don’t get a good start. For me getting that wicket off the first ball was special, I would have liked to nick him off on the off-side but they say that everyone counts.
‘There was definitely no plan there,’ he said of Alastair Cook’s dismissal. ‘I was lucky enough to get some bat and it worked out perfectly. I think it was one of those days where it could have gone for four and changed the spell around but it went my way.’
Viljoen has achieved most of his first-class success for the Highveld Lions at the Wanderers, and says the familiarity of the venue helped to settle the debut jitters.
‘To make my debut at the Wanderers definitely settled some nerves,’ he said. ‘You know what lengths to bowl, it still doesn’t take the fact away that you are playing against quality opposition, but it does help quite a bit. When you have a good team that backs you like they have me and senior players who stand behind you it makes things a lot easier.’
The inexperience of the attack was brutally exploited by centurion Joe Root and Ben Stokes, who shared a 111-run partnership to take the game away from South Africa.
Charl Langeveldt, the bowling coach, said it will be important to start off strongly on Saturday, especially with the key wicket of the danger man Root.
‘Tomorrow morning we have to settle down, try to get wickets but also keep that second new ball in our sights,’ Langeveldt said.
‘I think we need to get the ball in the right areas, meaning not too full and not too short. Root is a good player, if we get him out that will be key for us. They also have Ali who can bat, they have a strong tail so we need to get wickets upfront.’