Cow Corner: Relaxing and reflecting
WITH the tide about to change in my cricket career, I couldn't think of a better way to reflect on my journey than unwinding on the pristine waters of the Great Barrier Reef off 1770 for a few days fishing this week.
A day on the water in my eyes is the perfect way to mentally prepare myself for my childhood dream of representing my country.
It's a rare chance to refresh and clear my head before I head off on the weekend to tackle my biggest challenge so far, international T20 cricket. The South Africa cricket team boasts one of the fiercest bowling attacks in world cricket. But my approach for the T20 matches next week will be to appreciate the chance to showcase my skills against the world's best.
It was this time last year my sole focus was trying to cement a spot in the Bulls' Sheffield Shield side.
Although I won't be a part of the first two Shield fixtures - the first one starting today - it opens up opportunities for three of our up-and-coming batsmen in Ben McDermott, Nick Stevens and Marnus Labuschagne. It's Halloween, so hopefully there will be treats rather than tricks for the boys in Adelaide.
I think Benny is one to watch in the future. He's a mature kid, which would come from being exposed to cricket from a young age through his family, especially mixing it with his brother Alister in the back yard.
I've watched him closely over the last few years and he has improved immensely. He's got good technique and power. Mix that with a composed temperament and he has all the ingredients for a successful career at the top level.
I suspected he had the goods to get to the next level last season when I watched him take on "The Wild Thing" Shaun Tait at the Adelaide Oval during the BBL. Taity had some serious pace going and young Ben, batting for the Heat on debut, had a dip.
He wore one flush on the helmet, which left it dented and cracked, but he didn't back away. Showing he was still very much a kid at heart, he made sure he got Taity's autograph on the wrecked helmet after the game.
The first Shield game starting today against the Redbacks will also mark the comeback of Ryan Le Loux, a former member of the Bulls squad who received a shock phone call at work this week with the news he will be playing for Queensland again, nearly 10 years after his Shield debut.
After that many years away from the first-class scene, Ryan would have fallen over laughing if he'd been told at the start of the season he was going to be given another opportunity to represent the Bulls.
'Lulu' will do a good job. He's more than handy with the bat (as you would expect from anyone who can score a triple century in first grade as he did a few years back), and is a good fielder in addition to being a leggie who can keep it tight.
The Shield season has a new points system for this campaign, which is designed to reward attacking cricket. Knowing James Hopes and Stuart Law the way I do, I am sure the Bulls will be hunting as many wins as they can this summer, starting with South Australia from today.