CAPE TOWN - Dane Paterson may believe he is “just keeping a few seats warm”, but the soft-spoken Cape Cobras fast bowler does have his eye set on a place in the Proteas 2019 World Cup squad.
With the national team’s fast bowling unit having been severely depleted for the past couple of months, Paterson has enjoyed a fair bit of international action since making his T20 debut at the beginning of the year.
The 28-year-old has been a regular in the Proteas T20 team since, playing in New Zealand, England - where he was particularly good - and in the home series against Bangladesh. He has since also made his one-day international debut and received a call-up to the Test squad for the injured Morne Morkel.
“I have enjoyed being with the Proteas. It is a really cool set-up, where everybody makes you feel welcome from the start. But I’m just keeping a few seats warm,” Paterson said sheepishly at Cobras training on Wednesday.
“I have my own goals though. I’ll be 30 in two years' time and I really want to be part of the World Cup squad. It is probably going to be my only shot at going to a World Cup and I want to give it a real go.”
Paterson has always enjoyed a good relationship with former Proteas bowling coach Charl Langeveldt, viewing the Bolander almost as a mentor. But with Langeveldt having been jettisoned by new Proteas coach Ottis Gibson, does Paterson believe this will impact his growth as an international cricketer?
“Langes has taught me a lot. Almost everything I know. Since my early days at Western Province when was he was still playing at the Cobras, and then when he first became a Cobras coach, I worked very closely with Langes,” Paterson said.
“But I’ve really enjoyed working with the new coach (Gibson). He’s a really chilled out kind of guy. But he also has a very high work ethic and is a really practical kind of coach. We have been doing lots of skill work and very match-related. So, (I'm) really looking forward to working with Ottis.”
There have, though, been a couple of bitter-sweet months for Paterson. The Northpine resident was picked up in the first round of the inaugural T20 Global League draft for a hefty R1.75million by the Bloem City Blazers, but with the tournament postponed to next year there is great uncertainty around whether the players’ contracts will be honoured.
South African Cricketers' Association chief executive Tony Irish is heading the movement for the players to receive payment, but Paterson cannot be distracted by off-field matters now that the T20 Challenge has been moved forward on the calendar.
Paterson will most likely take the new ball for the Cobras and will have a big role to play for his team, while he will also know that his performances will be under the spotlight now that Proteas seamers Vernon Philander, Chris Morris and Dale Steyn are all set to return from injury.
“The Global T20 has been a bit of a roller-coaster for everyone involved, but there isn’t time to focus on ‘what-ifs’. The T20 Challenge is a going to big competition for everyone and a real treat for the fans who missed out on watching the Global T20," Paterson said.
“All the Proteas are going to be available for all the domestic franchises, so you can expect to see really good cricket for the next couple of weeks. I know, as an opening bowler, I am going to have hit my mark consistently because each team is going to be loaded with a few serious batters. It should be a good test.”