DURBAN - During his one month lay-off, Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj took the time to drive from Durban to Maritzburg to take in some schools cricket.
As his hamstring strain mended, he watched as young boys in whites charged about, and he yearned to be back on the field himself.
“It’s been a tough month away from the game, and just watching those little guys playing took me back to when I was a youngster starting out,” he explained.
“It certainly re-ignited my passion, and I couldn’t wait to play again.”
Maharaj explained that his strain had probably been down to pushing too hard on the field. In his quiet time, he says he has realised that he has to take a more measured approach to training, especially.
“I have to pace myself a bit better, because I miss the game when I’m out.”
Maharaj also took some time away from the game, just to take stock.
Having grown into his role as South Africa’s premier Test spinner, he still admits that the past year is still sinking in.
“To be honest, this past year is still a blur. I haven’t taken stock, because it has all happened so quickly.”
As the itch to play got unbearable, Maharaj asked kindly to make a return in club cricket, and did that on the past weekend for Delta.
“I was desperate to get back on the field, and I was glad to get the all-clear from the doctors. I got a couple of wickets, and made 25, so it was good to get on the park.”
There was also a stint for the amateur KZN side, which got him more overs under the belt.
Now, Maharaj is excited to get into the Ram Slam competition with the Dolphins, starting on Sunday.
“It’s been a bit tricky getting some practice in Durban this week, because of the weather, but we are all looking forward to getting back on the field,” he explained.
The Dolphins all-rounder is also keen to expand his white-ball cricket credentials.
“Whatever the format, I back myself.
"I’m looking forward to challenging for another trophy with the boys,” he enthused.
Maharaj added that while there was disappointment about the T20 Global League, there was still a lot of optimism around the camp.
“We’ve got a couple of warm-up games (two on Wednesday) just to get the boys into the format, and them we travel on Sunday.
"It’s good to be back in the action,” he added.
The Dolphins also welcome back Imran Tahir for the T20 competition, and Maharaj is looking forward to playing alongside the wizard.
"Immy has come back, and it’s great to have him in the team. We’re all excited for the competition,” he added.
The Ram Slam competition starts on Friday.