Durban – For many, Friday’s first T20 between South Africa and New Zealand at Kingsmead is just another match on the international calendar. For 32-year-old Titans opener Henry Davids, however, his international debut is the realisation of a long-held dream.
The opener has had a stop-start career to date, but he has come to the fore as a more consistent run scorer in recent seasons, particularly now that he has moved to Pretoria.
Davids is an aggressive batsman, but acknowledges that consistency has been a problem in the past. “I started out by looking to be explosive and score at a 150-200percent run rate and of course that led to early dismissals sometimes. Now I’ve learned to choose the ball to hit more carefully. Experience is a big factor, if I’d known five years ago what I know now, things would have been different. But I’m happy where I am with my cricket.”
Davids, who is set to form an exciting opening partnership with Richard Levi, recalled the moment he received a call from the convener of selectors, Andrew Hudson. “It was a bit overwhelming actually, and of course a great honour. I phoned my mom in Deneel, which is a small village near Boschendal where I come from, and five minutes later I started receiving texts from all my friends there. My mom must have told everyone, the news spread like a veld fire!” he laughed.
The Bolander said that in hindsight he had been destined for a cricket career from the moment he was born. “My dad missed my birth because he was playing in a cricket match, so maybe that was a sign,” he chuckled.
Davids said his father had played a big role in his career. “Dad loved cricket and always ferried me around to practices and so forth. It had always been his dream that I would one day play for South Africa.
“Sadly he passed away a year ago. When I told mom of my selection she cried on the phone because she knew what he would have felt if he’d been alive. But I like to think that he’s looking down on me now.”
Davids is one of four South Africans who could potentially make their debuts tomorrow, with Quinton de Kock, Chris Morris and Aaron Phangiso the others.
Just as Davids is set to make his debut, so is Russell Domingo as the new coach of the T20 side. Domingo said he was “excited” by the opportunity he had been given.
“Every coach would love to be in charge of an international side so of course it’s a massive honour and a privilege. It’s exciting, not just for me, but for some of the young players who will be making their debuts in this series.”
Domingo said he was starting the process of feeding the Test culture developed under Gary Kirsten to the T20 team. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but we’re starting by feeding it through in small drips.
“The longer we spend together, the more information we’ll provide for the guys.”
Domingo confirmed that Kirsten had allowed him to “run with the ball” as the T20 coach, but said there were limits. “I can’t deviate massively from the processes that Gary has laid down but I can do some things differently in my own way. I would also be foolish not to tap into his brain from time to time, and I will certainly be liaising regularly with him.”
The former Warriors coach said he was looking forward to working with new T20 captain Faf du Plessis. “Our relationship as captain and coach is still in its infancy and will develop a lot more. We get on really well and we both have similar thoughts on the game. I’ve certainly been very impressed with what Faf has had to offer over the first couple of days.”
Domingo said there was no danger of complacency within the squad and that he saw the New Zealanders as presenting a big challenge. “When we went there earlier this year we were probably fortunate to win the series. It was 1-1 with the last game at Eden Park and they needed about 14 off 19 balls and they ended up losing. It was probably a series they should have won. We know there’s very little between the sides, particularly in this format.” – The Mercury