DURBAN - The last time Sarel Erwee played in Pretoria, he was miserable company off the field. Having come off the high of winning the Africa T20 Cup with KwaZulu-Natal Inland, the left-hand opener came out blazing in the opening round of the Sunfoil Series - and got burnt by the heat of the competition.
Back in late September, he was coming off the highest aggregate of runs for a single Africa T20 Cup tournament, so his confidence was flowing. Enter the likes of Morne Morkel and Malusi Siboto to give him a reality check.
“I nicked off in both innings, and I was definitely bleak company for a few days. I had a long, hard look at myself, and realised that I had to go back to the basics, and grind out the runs again,” Erwee said.
The sobering self-assessment was on the money, and the Dolphins will attest that their 28-year-old southpaw has not looked back since he had that chat with the man in the mirror. There were classy centuries in the Sunfoil Series against the Knights and Titans, and going to help South Africa win the Hong Kong Sixes in between.
To top that off, he jetted off to France, to be the best man at Jason Roy’s wedding. The England bludgeoner was amongst the first to congratulate Erwee on his blistering 103 not out against the Cape Cobras on Sunday, as the Dolphins kicked off the T20 Challenge in style.
“I never thought I would play T20 franchise cricket, so to score a hundred like that was a dream,” the St Charles College product exclaimed.
WHAT A KNOCK! Absolute gun. https://t.co/e9ogp5wrMt
Even after sleeping on it, Erwee was still buzzing on Monday morning, because his road to the top has been long and patient. For cricketers who come from Pietermaritzburg, making it into the Durban-based Dolphins’ set-up can seem impossible, but Erwee has stated his case with a burgeoning barrel of runs over the past few seasons.
In among the drives and clatters to cow-corner on Sunday, he has added reverse-sweeps and paddles, even against Vernon Philander.
“Ya, that reverse paddle off Philander just happened. You have to try and stay one step ahead of the bowler all the time, and I just played that on instinct. It was pretty cool,” he said.
Erwee himself has been a cool customer for the Dolphins, thriving in the company of players who now understand his worth to the team. Happily, on his latest trip to Pretoria, he was also infinitely better company off the field.
“I was having breakfast with Khaya (Zondo), and we just remembered that we were batting together when I made my first List A century, too. We had a long partnership, under pressure, and we fought through it,” he reflected.
The Durban outfit will be hoping the pair share many more meaningful partnerships and breakfasts in future, as they look to build on a very exciting start to the T20 Challenge.