It’s all in the blood for Protea Ryan

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

“ The rea­son that ex­pe­ri­ence is so good is be­cause on a weekly ba­sis you get ex­posed to play­ing against the best play­ers in the world and that alone en­hances your per­for mance and you gain a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause you play a high stan­dard of cricket.

“As a player you learn from the other more ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers how to play in that envi- ron­ment and be­cause you’re play­ing on a day-to-day ba­sis you learn just by play­ing so much cricket.

“You also learn from (the ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers) how they ap­proach the game. It’s made me more open-minded to un­der­stand that there are dif­fer­ent ways to go about the game. Play­ing county cricket has im­proved my skill and my way of think­ing and I think that’s the same for most other crick­eters that go there.”

In just his sixth sea­son as a se­nior pro­fes­sional, but with bags of ex­pe­ri­ence be­hind him, this lat­est pe­riod of McLaren’s ca­reer has him bub­bling over.

“Play­ing for South Africa is a goal that you have at the back of your mind and now that it has been re­alised, and you know all the hard work that you’ve put in, you quickly re­alise that you’ve been picked for a rea­son and my goal is to con­trib­ute as much as I can.

“In terms of ex­pec­ta­tions, there’s a lot from the out­side, from the me­dia, but all I can fo­cus on is what I do on the field, and to fo­cus on prepa­ra­tion and then what­ever else hap­pens in the game you try and con­trol that.

“I’m for­tu­nate in that in the first few games it has gone well, but I’m not tak­ing any­thing for granted, to me ev­ery game you play, you play it as if it’s your last.”

As busy as the last 12 months have been – McLaren also got mar­ried in Fe­bru­ary – he’s still keen on com­plet­ing his B Comm mar­ket­ing de­gree through the Uni­ver­sity of the Free State. “I still want to fin­ish my stud­ies at some stage, I started six years ago, but that had to be put on hold be­cause I’ve been so busy with cricket.”

Like most of his na­tional team­mates, McLaren is a keen fol­lower of Manch­ester United – “I’ve been a fan of theirs since I was a kid,” – and lo­cally Bloem­fontein Celtic and Kaizer Chiefs. “I went to watch a game be­tween them re­cently which was great fun.”

It’s cricket that has most of his at­ten­tion in com­ing weeks, though, and the high-pro­file se­ries against Eng­land seems the per­fect way to launch a ca­reer which owes much to the genes of his sports-mad par­ents. “It’s a child­hood dream, ev­ery as­pir­ing crick­eter wants to play for his coun­try. It doesn’t mat­ter how long it takes. It’s even­tu­ally got here and it’s just an awe­some op­por­tu­nity.”

EYES ON THE PRIZE: It has been worth the wait for Ryan McLaren, who has im­pressed since mak­ing his SA de­but.

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