Johannesburg - Australian T20 specialist Dirk Nannes says South Africa was the perfect place to play cricket as it provided a challenging test for cricketers from all over the world.
“It’s a good place to be in terms of good, hard cricket,” Nannes said in Johannesburg on Sunday.
The 35-year-old will play alongside Pakistan’s Sohail Tanvir as the two overseas professionals in the Lions’ squad for this season’s domestic T20 competition which gets underway on Wednesday.
“I like a challenge and playing in a good quality domestic tournament is sometimes more difficult than international cricket, so I expect nothing less than good hard cricket,” he said.
The presence of international players in domestic cricket is part of the growing appeal of the 20-over game around the world, being a drawcard for the fans as well as adding extra spice to the competition.
“Having a guy like Chris Gayle, who dominates competitions around the world, is a good challenge for domestic players,” Nannes said.
“They would not normally get the opportunity to bowl to players of his calibre and it’s also great for the fans to watch.”
Although left-arm “quickies” are rare in South Africa, Nannes did not feel he had much of an advantage over the other bowlers or that he still held an element of surprise.
“I may be a bit of an unknown to some of the guys but I’ve played against quite a few of them already so it won’t be a complete surprise," said Nannes.
“These days everyone studies opposition players on video so I’ll be the same as any other fast bowler they ever come across.”
Nannes played 17 T20’s for Australia, making his debut in 2009 and still felt he could make a contribution to the team.
In 2010, he took 27 wickets, at an average of 14.92, in 14 matches but was dropped at the end of the season.
“I got dropped for the first game in 2011 after I’d taken 27 wickets in 2010,” he said.
“I thought it was a bit rough to drop me, but who can argue with the way the team is going at the moment?
“I think I can still bring something to the team but they’ve moved on and the youngsters are doing well and swinging the ball again.
“But who knows? Maybe I can sneak back into the T20 World Cup squad.”
Being a 20-over specialist was an opportunity to extend Nannes’s cricketing career and it has become a full time job.
“That’s my life now - that’s all I do as a job,” he said.
“I’m fortunate enough to be able to play 20-over cricket 10 months of the year now.
“There are not many people who can do that but it keeps me playing, it’s a great job and I’ll keep doing it as long as I can because I love playing cricket.”
Nannes said it was also an advantage to domestic players, who only play T20 cricket for five weeks of the year, to rub shoulders with people who do it for a living.
“Hopefully I bring a different experience into the game and a different point of view about how you approach the game," he said.
"My role here is pretty clear - they [Lions] needed someone to bowl up front and bowl at the death and that’s what I do.
“I like to think that as I’m getting older I’m getting a little wiser about how I bowl but certainly my strength has always been my pace.
“When that goes, I’m in trouble so I’ll try and bowl as quick as I can.”