JOHANNESBURG – Corbin Bosch has turned his back on Australia and is now keen, once more, to crack the international scene as a Protea.
Bosch nearly became one of those players, that the small, but very vocal section of South African sports followers who complain a lot, could put on a poster. Transformation, a lack of game time, opportunities, better pay, blah blah – all the reasons usually held up for the ‘player drain’ out of the country.
Except in Bosch’s case, he discovered that the grass isn’t always greener in Brisbane.
“I was very impatient, if I’m honest... I was 21, thinking I should be a lot higher, it was a really frustrating time in my cricket,” Bosch said at SuperSport Park.
He left South Africa in May last year, determined to cut it in the vigorous Australian system, with an eye on donning the ‘baggy green’.
At the time of his departure, Bosch bemoaned a lack of opportunities, and that he believed chances to develop and play more often in South Africa would diminish even further.
Bosch was part of the South African Under-19 side that won the World Cup in 2014. That side included Aiden Markram, Kagiso Rabada and Andile Phehlukwayo, though the latter’s role was limited to just one match in that tournament.
Rabada and Markram were earmarked for the highest level in the aftermath of that event, with Bosch, Jason Smith, Clyde Fortuin and Justin Dill among the group that was “worth keeping an eye on”.
To my Valentine every year for the last 17 years ❤ You are like the stars in my night sky, I may never be able to touch you but I still see you and feel you in my life, you light up my world when it's darkest and I guide me when I have no sense of direction! There are many things I wish we could have done and wish I could have said but I'm forever grateful that you are my one and only ❤ I love you so much and words can't describe how much I miss you! My heart beats you every minute of the day and for every beat I feel I know you right there with me too ❤ I will always look up to you! And be the most proud and honoured son in the entire world! 😘 #14 ❤❤
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Bosch, the player of the match in the final – in which he picked up 4/15 – believed the hype that surrounded that group when they returned and were celebrated the length and breadth of the country.
But Rabada aside, offers of professional contracts didn’t come immediately. Bosch couldn’t even break into the Northerns semi-professional team, he grew disillusioned and packed for Brisbane.
“I was really, really impatient, thinking I should at least be playing amateur cricket.
“I was going to try and make it there – I had a pretty good season in Oz, but obviously a lot of things didn’t pan out the way I wanted them to, not that I played bad cricket,” said Bosch.
“But them trying to pick someone they were not sure of, haven’t seen a lot of, was really difficult.
“Living costs in Australia were pretty expensive. I came back home and realised that listen, I wanted to give myself another go here, clean slate and have a whole new start.”
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Bosch regrets the hastiness with which he took the decision to play in Australia, but not the decision itself. “The level of cricket is outstanding, it really helped me grow a lot,” said Bosch.
“I played first-grade cricket for (Northern Suburbs Districts), and it gave me a whole new perspective of how good (their) players actually are.
“I trained a little bit with Queensland, worked a bit with Andy Bichel and Phil Jaques, guys who’ve represented Australia and having an opportunity to work with them, seeing their point of view was something I learned a lot from.
“The way Australians play their cricket is a completely different mindset to what we have here; we tend to see ourselves, as having the ability to come back when we’re down, there they want to beat you up from the get go, take the game to you, be aggressive.
“It’s something I’ve learned to add to my game, it’s a whole new dimension, and slowly I’m trying to figure out what works, but it’s helped my game a lot.”
Does he feel that had he stayed then, like Markram and Rabada, he would be, if not in the national team, then very close to being selected?
“Honestly, I highly doubt that,” Bosch answered. “Some people might think it was not a good move for me to go away, but personally... I’ve come back fresh, really hungry to succeed.
“I think I’m potentially in a much better space than had I stayed. I’m really enjoying my cricket for the first time in a really long time. Just before I left, I was really frustrated, I was very inconsistent.”
Bosch had designs initially on just earning a spot in the Tuks club team, and held talks with the club’s coach Kruger van Wyk in that regard after returning to South Africa.
The goal for this summer was to try and break into the Northerns semi-professional team, but then he unexpectedly got a call-up to the Titans team and has played three Sunfoil Series matches.
His returns weren’t earth-shattering – just 45 runs and two wickets – but just to be playing alongside his best mate Markram and in the same team as AB de Villiers has made returning to these shores seem worthwhile.
He hasn’t been included in the Titans squad for the T20 Challenge because of the number of national players from which the franchise can choose. But he is hopeful of picking up a loan contract elsewhere.
“I’ve learnt now that there are certain processes I need to go through, in order for my cricket to grow and to develop into a cricketer that can hopefully play international cricket.
“I’m still best friends with Aiden, we went to school together, and from a young age you could see he would play for South Africa one day if he kept pursuing it.
“He’s been an inspiration, KG bowling 150, that’s inspirational, I’d love to be able to bowl 150 all day long like he does.”
There’s more inspiration to be found on the walls around SuperSport Park. “Just to come to a net has been a dream come true. My dad (Tertius) played here, just to be in the same space, it’s really, really special.”
Corbin was just five-years-old when his father, who played one Test and two ODIs immediately following South Africa’s return from international isolation, died in 2000.
“I saw his name in the change-room when I played my first game a month ago... there’s a photo of him in the president’s suite, it gets really emotional sometimes. But it’s something I cherish.
“He’s someone I look up to the most, he’s the person who inspires and motivates me the most.
“I can’t be more grateful or honoured to be his son, I just want to make him proud. However far my cricket goes, all I want to do is make him proud.”
Bosch is back for the long haul, stronger both physically and mentally compared to the disillusioned 21-year-old that left in 2016.
“Patience, patience, I keep saying patience I keep telling myself to do the hard work and things will happen for me.”