It’s all in the blood for Protea Ryan
“ 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.