New Proteas off-spinner Dane Piedt speaks to sacricketmag.co.za about his dream debut, that first-ball wicket, and dealing with the pressure of expectation.
As far as debuts go, it doesn’t get better than taking 8-152, the best figures by a South African spinner in their first Test match.
And Dane Piedt, the man who completed that feat on Tuesday, in the process helping lead the Proteas to victory over Zimbabwe in their one-off Test, says it’s a memory he will always treasure. ‘It was unreal, like a dream. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. The whole experience was amazing, from getting my cap from Shaun Pollock, who is such a legend in South African cricket, to taking the eight wickets and being part of a Test victory.’
Piedt was speaking to sacricketmag.co.za after returning to Cape Town from Harare, and the excitement in his voice was palpable. After a successful debut, Piedt has found himself thrust into the limelight, but it seems he’s happy to be in the public eye.
‘Getting congratulations from everyone at the airport was an amazing feeling. I’m not used to being recognised, but when I landed everyone was cheering me and telling me how happy they were,’ he said. ‘It felt nice to be able to be recognised for the hard work I did in Zimbabwe. Playing for South Africa is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.’
Speaking about his eight-wicket haul in Harare, Piedt explained his thinking going into the Test. ‘I just wanted to play that role of the holding spinner. I was selected as the only frontline spinner, and I knew my job was to hold on to the ball at one end, while the seamers rotated from the other side.’
The thought of claiming some wickets wasn’t far from his mind, though, especially after seeing the surface that had been prepared at the Harare Sports Club. ‘I was very happy looking at the pitch on Friday evening. I could see it would take some turn, so I wanted to exploit that, particularly with the newer, harder ball.’
However, he never expected to claim a victim with his first ball in Test cricket. ‘I always like to start well, so my aim with that first ball was just to land it in the right area and hope that something comes,’ he said. ‘Getting the wicket was a bonus, and it definitely gave me some confidence.’
Of course, given his success on debut, there will be expectation placed on the young off-spinner for the future, something which he is aware of, and has planned for. ‘I’ve spent a lot of time recently chatting to JP [Duminy] about the expectation that gets placed on you after having a good debut. He faced the same thing after that century in Australia, so he’s been very helpful in preparing me for that.’
Piedt will have to wait at least another four months before getting to play another Test match, but he isn’t resting on his laurels. ‘I’m looking to get settled back into the Cobras camp as soon as I can,’ he explained. ‘There were a few weaknesses that I identified during my time with the Proteas, and I’ll work on those, as well as my bowling in the shorter formats.
‘My next goal is to get into the Cobras squad for the Champions League, and try and do well for them in India. After that, I’ll come back and work on getting a place in the Proteas team for the West Indies series at the end of the year.’
Interview conducted by Dan Gillespie.