Kyle Verreynne says he did not feel as if he were batting for his place in the Proteas Test team in Christchurch on Monday.
The 24-year-old replaced Quinton de Kock as the Proteas’ first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman when the latter retired from the longest form of the game during the home series against India.
Verreynne was under pressure coming into the second Test against New Zealand, having scored just 108 runs in his first seven innings at an average of 15.42, but came good with an unbeaten 136.
It allowed the Proteas to declare their second innings closed on 354-9 and set the Black Caps an improbable 426 runs to win.
New Zealand were 94-4 at stumps with South Africa red-hot favourites to level the two-match series on Tuesday.
During an online media conference, Verreynne was asked if it felt like he was batting for his place in the team and whether he felt relief when reaching his maiden Test century.
“I didn’t feel like I was batting for my place at all,” he responded. “I don’t think it’s relief; I think it’s more just pride. I don’t know why you would feel relieved about getting a hundred. I think it’s more just being overjoyed and happy with what you’ve achieved.
“I’ve worked my whole life to play Test cricket and play at this level, and to get across the line and make a contribution like that to the game and the team is something I’m really proud of.”
“Starting in the West Indies there were quite challenging wickets, and then against India, it was probably the toughest pitches that I’ve played on and then coming here the first Test was also really tough,” said Verreynne.
“I’ll be honest with you; mentally you have a lot of doubts about yourself. You read a lot of things that people are writing … there were a lot of questions being asked of me. It was quite challenging.
“I think the important thing for me was to keep that self-belief and keep backing what I’ve done in the past and my preparation,” he added.
“In the buildup to this Test I did quite a bit of work on the technical side of things to try and refine that a bit, and going into this game I felt like I was in a really good space technically, and it was just about making sure I got my mindset right.
“I think the tough period I had at the start of my Test career has been important to go through, and hopefully, I am out of that now.”