Cricket: Dream come true for Proteas opener in first T20 clash

By Patrick Compton

Henry Davids sees the New Zealanders as presenting a big challenge. Photo / AP
Henry Davids sees the New Zealanders as presenting a big challenge. Photo / AP

For many, tomorrow's first T20 between South Africa and New Zealand at Kingsmead is just another match on the international calendar. For 32-year-old Titans opener Henry Davids, however, his international debut is the realisation of a long-held dream.

The opener, who made his debut for Boland against New Zealand 12 years ago, has had a stop-start career to date, but he has come to the fore as a more consistent run scorer in recent seasons, particularly now that he has moved to Pretoria.

Davids, who turns 33 next month, is an aggressive batsman, but acknowledges that consistency has been a problem. "I started out by looking to be explosive and score at a 150-200 per cent run-rate and of course that led to early dismissals sometimes. Now I've learned to choose the ball to hit more carefully. If I'd known five years ago what I know now, things would have been different, but I'm happy where I am with my cricket now."

Davids, who is set to form an exciting opening partnership with Richard Levi, recalled the moment he received a call from the convener of selectors, Andrew Hudson, with the happy news. "It was a bit overwhelming actually, and of course a great honour. I phoned my mom in Deneel, which is a small village near Boschendal where I come from, and five minutes later I started receiving texts from all my friends there. My mom must have told everyone, the news spread like a veld fire," he laughed.

The Bolander said that in hindsight he had been destined for a cricket career from the moment he was born. "My dad missed my birth because he was playing in a cricket match, so maybe that was a sign." Davids said his father had played a big role in his career. "Dad loved cricket and always ferried me around to practices. It had always been his dream that I would one day play for South Africa. Sadly he passed away a year ago. When I told mom of my selection she cried on the phone because she knew what he would have felt if he'd been alive. But I like to think that he's looking down on me now."

Davids is one of four South Africans who could potentially make their debuts tomorrow, with Quinton de Kock, Chris Morris and Aaron Phangiso.

Just as Davids is set to make his debut, so is Russell Domingo as the new coach of the T20 side. Domingo, who is the assistant coach under Gary Kirsten in the test and ODI formats, said he was "excited" by the opportunity he had been given.

Domingo confirmed that Kirsten had allowed him to "run with the ball" as the T20 coach, but said there were limits. "I can't deviate massively from the processes that Gary has laid down but I can do some things differently in my own way. I would also be foolish not to tap into his brain from time to time, and I will certainly be liaising regularly with him."

Domingo said there was no danger of complacency within the squad and that he saw the New Zealanders as presenting a big challenge.

"When we went there earlier this year we were probably fortunate to win the series. It was 1-1 with the last game at Eden Park and they needed about 14 off 19 balls and they ended up losing. It was probably a series they should have won. We know there's very little between the sides, particularly in this format, so I think it's going to be a tight series."

- NZ Herald

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