Fudgie's 'surreal' experience nears end

2017-01-25 14:15
Farhaan Behardien (Gallo)

Cape Town - T20 cricket is not the priority for the Proteas at the moment. 

Faf du Plessis confirmed as much after the third Test against Sri Lanka at the Wanderers this month. 

Instead, they are focused heavily on returning to the top of the pile in Test cricket and winning the ICC Champions Trophy in England later this year.

With workloads being very carefully managed, the ongoing T20 series against Sri Lanka has seen the Proteas rest their superstars and provide an international platform for a group of young and inexperienced players.

They play Sri Lanka in the third and deciding T20I at Newlands on Wednesday, but South Africa have just one T20I on their tour to New Zealand in February. 

After that, they will not play any T20 cricket until the end of October when Bangladesh tour. 

It is hard to see Cricket South Africa (CSA) flying this youthful squad over to New Zealand for just one T20, so the side for that match should have a far more familiar feel to it ahead of five ODIs against the Black Caps that will provide crucial Champions Trophy preparation. 

That will, in all likelihood, mean a return to the side and the captaincy for Du Plessis. 

Farhaan Behardien has performed as a stand-in captain against Sri Lanka in Du Plessis' absence, but Wednesday could be the last time he enjoys that honour for some time. 

It is hard to assess how well Behardien has performed as skipper.

He was off to a winning start in Pretoria in a 10-over hit around, but then couldn't defend 113 in Johannesburg as the series was leveled. 

If this is going to be Behardien's last time captaining his country, then he will desperately want to go out on a winning note by securing a 2-1 series triumph.

Whatever happens, it's been the highlight of his career so far.  

"I’m getting goosebumps," Behardien said ahead of the third T20I when asked about the captaincy.

"It’s not a secret that I want to captain or lead a group of men but I always thought it would be offered on a franchise level.

"I’ve captained the Titans a few times … but to captain my country is something that took me by surprise. It was a very proud moment for me and my family. It’s still kind of surreal … a very proud moment.

"It’s been a bit nerve-wracking, especially in a 10 over game where anything goes.

"Then in a low scoring game you’re always questioning yourself and your decision making … who to bowl when and what to bowl."

Behardien was given his first real test as skipper on Sunday when he had to pick somebody to bowl the final over. 

Sri Lanka needed just seven to win, and Behardien turned to part-timer JJ Smuts instead of Andile Phehlukwayo. 

"We all decided as a team to bowl JJ Smuts because we knew that spin was tough on that wicket," he said.

"I’m thoroughly enjoying it (the captaincy). It’s a new experience for me … a lot of responsibilities and challenges." 

The Proteas will welcome back AB de Villiers on Wednesday who returns to international cricket for the first time in six months after recovering from a shoulder injury. 

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, are without their leader Angelo Mathews. 


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