Welcome to Test cricket ... Kyle Verreynne learns that playing fewer shots might help him score more runs
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JOHANNESBURG - Kyle Verreynne spent the days between the first and second Tests working on not playing shots.
Many batsmen when they make the step up from domestic cricket to international level, learn that aspect of batting fairly quickly. It’s not the shots you play, but often the ones you don’t that can make for a successful international career. Sachin Tendulkar famously chose not to play the cover drive in a Test against Australia in Sydney and made 241. Steve Waugh refused to hook or pull for a decade and he averaged over 50.
On debut last week Verreynne faced eight balls, wildy swinging at a wide delivery that bounced more than he’d anticipated and edged through to the wicket-keeper. “I’m quite a free-scoring player but I found out in the first Test that it was probably not the way to go on this wicket,” the 24 year old said after the first day’s play in the second Test against the West Indies in St. Lucia on Friday.
“I’ve been working a lot on adjusting to these conditions, putting certain shots away that I’m used to playing.”
Verreynne faced 89 balls, and batted for over three hours on a tricky surface to make 27, hitting just two boundaries. He shared a crucial partnership of 87 for the fourth wicket with Proteas captain Dean Elgar to rescue the tourists from a precarious position of 37/3 in the first session.
South Africa eventually finished the day on 218/5.
“It was quite tough,” Verreynne said of conditions, which were heavily in favour of the West Indies’ seam bowlers. “The pitch was a bit tacky in the morning, there was quite a bit of swing because of the overhead conditions and then after lunch as the wicket started firming up, (the ball) moved a little quicker off the wicket. They have a really skillful bowling lineup, they are really good at using the Dukes ball and made scoring quite tricky.”
In Elgar, Verreynne had the perfect partner to coach him through arguably the most difficult few hours of batting he’s endured thus far in his career. “A lot of it was Dean reminding me to stick to my processes, just to keep doing what I’m doing,” Verreynne said of the conversations he was having with his captain.
“With the conditions being so difficult, you don’t want to focus on scoring runs, you want to spend time in the middle. His messages were reminding me to stay patient, stick to the processes and remember the chats we had throughout the week. Don’t do anything different, just stay boring and stay out in the middle.”
“It was really nice to have Dean there to remind me of the net sessions and work on restricting myself.”
Verreynne was arguably the most talked about player in the country last summer, with calls for his inclusion in the T20 team against Pakistan following Temba Bavuma’s injury. The Proteas head coach Mark Boucher said Verreynne was picked as the back up wicket-keeper, a sentiment that did not go down well particularly in Cape Town, Verreynne’s home city.
While aware of all the publicity, he has not allowed himself to become weighed down by all the chatter about his selection for the national side.
“At the end of the day, there’s a process, you need to stay patient and be ready for when your opportunity does come. Personally I don’t feel any extra pressure. I’m in the camp, I’ve had a lot of good chats with the coach and the captain. There’s no extra pressure being on the side and waiting. You’ve just got to wait your turn and when your turn comes you’ve got to take it,” he said.