CAPE TOWN - Between them, Ashwell Prince and Hashim Amla have played a total of 173 Tests. That type of experience cannot be bought at even the most exclusive shopping centre in Dubai.
It is a commodity Aviwe Mgijima was privileged to have at his disposal this past weekend in Bloemfontein. It certainly paid off for Mgijima, with the 29-year-old registering his maiden first-class century to salvage a heroic draw for the Cape Cobras.
“It is great to get the 100, especially in the first game of the season, so that monkey is off my back now. But it is all about consistency. It is something we speak a lot about in the team environment. We know the talent we have available, so we can’t be going out and score 159 like we did in the first innings,” Mgijima said.
With the Cobras still trailing the Knights by 155 runs - the overall deficit was 464 - the visitors needed someone to show substantial grit and technique to stay with Amla if they were going to save the game.
Almost four hours later, and even after Amla was dismissed for a superb 189, Mgijima raised his bat for a much-deserved 112 (184 balls, 13x4, 1x6). It was the type of back-to-the-wall innings Prince was renowned for during his playing days.
“For the past two seasons I really owe the coach a lot. Ash has worked especially hard with me. There were small technical things that he changed initially, but the biggest alteration was mentally," Mgijima said.
“He worked hard on my mindset. He speaks a lot about applying my mind, and instilling belief within me. He likes players to play with their hearts, and where your character is tested. So, it was good to come out on the right side in a tough situation.”
Mgijima knows it is still early in the season, though, and that he now needs take on board the lessons he would have learnt while batting with Amla for a lengthy period of time.
The pair put on 165 for the fifth wicket and it would undoubtedly have done wonders for Mgijima.
“It was the first time I have ever batted with Hash. The thing that struck me was how calm he is when he bats and how quickly he puts what’s happened the previous ball behind him. It was good fun batting with him,” he said.