With cricket being a national sport in South Africa, it was all around me from a young age. It was on TV, on posters in my home, spoken about a family events, but the main source of my cricket was played in the streets. It was one of those games where all could play with everyone given equal chance to shine amongst the kids on the block. I really enjoyed that cricket was more than just hitting a ball. It was about speed, accuracy, throwing, catching, power…it made me feel like I could do anything well. Ofcourse, this reinforced my belief that I was a superhero.
What really set me on the path to playing cricket with a hardball was not really the stuff of legends – but close enough. I was 9 years old and was asked by my friends to play with them. They were both aged 14 and what I didn’t realise is that they wanted me to play fetch while they were hitting balls for fun – needless to say I still enjoyed it. Then it happened…
Standing over 50 metres away, one of them hit a massive sweep in the air. I had to run really far to my right and somehow, I managed to dive and catch it sweetly with one hand – which I only realised after opening my eyes. We were all in disbelief. They asked me to come with them to their club cricket practice and I haven’t looked back. Word went around of my spectacular catch. Friends and family started calling me ‘Jonty’ after arguably South Africa’s best known fielder, Jonty Rhodes. Being called by the name of a really good player made me believe I was good as well. I managed to walk away with the best fielder award that season for the club’s under 10s – my stage was set.
It has been a combination of the environment, my ability, my enjoyment and being at the right place at the right time that has made playing cricket an easy path for me to follow. I do enjoy playing other sports, particularly soccer…but cricket seems to have a deeper connection with me. I believe it had everything to do with that catch.
There are turning points in our lives that seem insignificant, yet they can shape your entire future. There are times I wish I didn’t take that catch (will cover this in another post) but most of the time, I am really glad I did.