Kuhn’s one fi­nal fling, an ad­ven­ture starts for Andile

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - STUART HESS

ONE is closer to the end of his ca­reer, the other has just taken the first steps in what could po­ten­tially be a very ex­cit­ing stay at the high­est level. Their en­ergy levels are sim­i­lar, though, as they look ahead to the three T20 In­ter­na­tion­als against Sri Lanka.

Nearly 12 years sep­a­rate Heino Kuhn and Andile Phehluk­wayo in age – Kuhn at 32 started his pro­fes­sional cricket ca­reer al­most a decade be­fore Phehluk­wayo did his. How­ever, both were bounc­ing around at train­ing yesterday as a new-look South Africa side continued prepa­ra­tions be­fore the open­ing T20 In­ter­na­tional at Su­perS­port Park to­mor­row.

For both it’s a re­turn of sorts, al­though there is a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in the gap be­tween when they last rep­re­sented the Proteas. Phehluk­wayo’s last turn at in­ter­na­tional cricket re­mains fresh in the mem­ory. The ef­fer­ves­cent bat­ting to help David Miller win the third ODI against Aus­tralia in Dur­ban is one of the high­lights of the sea­son while the va­ri­ety he showed with the ball be­fud­dled the World Cup hold­ers to such an ex­tent that Phehluk­wayo ended the se­ries as the lead­ing wicket-taker with eight vic­tims.

He didn’t get a chance to build on that re­mark­able in­tro­duc­tion to in­ter­na­tional cricket fol­low­ing a hor­rific in­ci­dent in the T20 Chal­lenge com­pe­ti­tion, where he was struck in the groin by a ball and re­quired surgery. He only re­cently re­turned for his fran­chise, the Dol­phins, in the four-day Sun­foil Se­ries, but said yesterday there were no af­ter-ef­fects from the surgery.

“The in­jury hasn’t af­fected me much, men­tally or phys­i­cally,” said Phehluk­wayo. The break did pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for him to re­flect on his first taste of the in­ter­na­tional scene and he’s keen to use the lessons learned against Steve Smith’s side when he plays against the Sri Lankans in what will be his first T20 match for the Proteas.

“That break was also pos­i­tive… I am aware of what I need to do, how to train, what ques­tions to ask and what my men­tal prepa­ra­tion should be.”

It re­quires a slightly longer mem­ory to re­call Kuhn’s last ap­pear­ance for South Africa. That came in the sum­mer of 2011 also against Aus­tralia, but in a T20 match, which South Africa won at the Wan­der­ers thanks to an out­ra­geous eighth-wicket part­ner­ship be­tween Wayne Par­nell and Rusty Theron.

Kuhn has played five T20 In­ter­na­tion­als but his high­est score of five not out sug­gests he didn’t con­trib­uted sig­nif­i­cantly. In all those matches he bat­ted down the or­der – be­tween No 6 and 8 and kept wicket – but he is hop­ing to bat some­where higher up this time around. “Rus­sell (Domingo) has asked what I pre­fer,” Kuhn said yesterday. “I’ve al­ways been an open­ing bat­ter but in the last sea­son, I’ve bat­ted four, which I’ve en­joyed. I’ve en­joyed play­ing those mid­dle overs, run­ning hard, es­pe­cially with guys like Fudgie (Be­har­dien), who’s a great run­ner be­tween wick­ets. Four has been good to me, but I’m happy to slot in wher­ever they want me.”

Kuhn’s call-up is a re­ward for some out­stand­ing form across the do­mes­tic for­mats in re­cent sea­sons. In the last two sea­sons he’s been in­te­gral in the Ti­tans’ cham­pi­onship-win­ning cam­paigns in the lo­cal T20 com­pe­ti­tions and last sea­son he was the lead­ing run-scorer in the Sun­foil Se­ries. With an ag­gre­gate of 1 126 he was the only bats­men to score more than 1 000 runs in the com­pe­ti­tion last sum­mer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.