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Ken Borland

Keegan Petersen: You know you have made an impression on the cricket field when …

Posted on February 17, 2022 by Ken

You know you have made an impression on the cricket field when AB de Villiers tweets about how excited he is to watch you bat, Ravi Shastri says you remind him of his childhood hero and Ian Chappell wonders why you weren’t playing Test cricket earlier.

Keegan Petersen was so impressive in South Africa’s Test triumph over India, taking the Man of the Series award for his 276 runs at an average of 46, scoring 41 more runs than anyone else, that the world has taken notice of the new number three’s performance against the top-ranked side.

De Villiers said “Keegan Petersen CAN play! I’m very excited with the composure, skill and technique I’ve seen against one of the best attacks in the world.”

Shastri, India’s former captain and the coach who made them a dominant force before he stepped down last year, called Petersen “a great world player in the making. My childhood hero Gundappa Viswanath comes to mind.”

Viswanath played 91 Tests for India and scored 6080 runs at an average of 41.93 between 1969 and 1983. He was a wristy stylist who was at his best when the conditions were at their toughest.

Former Australian captain Chappell, in his column for CricInfo, wondrered where Petersen has been all this time. “He has all the requirements of a Test No. 3, including a wide range of shots that he is prepared to play, plus a solid defence. So why is he only playing now?” he asked.

Out of the public eye, Petersen’s new-found fame has led to him being swamped with well-wishers, especially in his home town of Paarl, where he went with his family after the Test series.

“I don’t think my phone has ever been as busy as it has been for the last few days,” Petersen told The Citizen. “To have such legends talking about you, anything they say is really nice.

“It’s been a bit of a star-struck few days. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. My whole family and friends came to see me in Paarl, but I’m not complaining.

“It is their honour too. I am a product of my community and I owe a lot to them,” Petersen said.

Educated at New Orleans Secondary School, Petersen popped into his old school last week as the guest of honour to welcome the new pupils. It’s a close-knit school, well-known for its family values as much as the many sports stars they have produced.

And, in terms of his life outside of cricket, Petersen makes it clear that family is his priority.

“All my time outside of cricket goes to my family, my wife and three kids – two boys and a girl – because I’m away enough with cricket,” Petersen said.

“We enjoy watching movies, Netflix, having a braai or potjiekos. I’m not very outgoing but we enjoy going to the beach.”

Speaking of family, Petersen credits his father, Dirkie, as having been the major influence on his cricketing career. Currently a teacher at New Orleans SS, Petersen senior was a talented all-round sportsman playing fullback for the SA Tertiary Institutes rugby team and cricket for Paarl, alongside Adrian Kuiper and Marais Erasmus.

“He’s always been there through my career and probably knows my game better than I do,” Petersen junior said. “I don’t think he can throw anymore because he’s thrown me so many balls.

“I’m so grateful to him. He was a wicketkeeper/batsman, a decent player, but I only watched him at the back end of his career in club cricket.”

The 28-year-old Petersen said there were plenty of nerves to get over during the Test series against India. But he’s the sort of character who is comfortable pushing himself and rising to challenges.

He was a prolific scorer for Boland after making his debut for them in 2011/12, but struggled to gain a regular starting place in a powerful Cape Cobras batting line-up. So he moved to Bloemfontein for greater opportunity and flourished for the Knights. Last season he moved to the Dolphins – “to upskill myself in a new challenge on turning pitches” – and helped them to the four-day title.

Those butterflies were flying in perfect formation by the end of the Test series as any questions over Petersen’s place in the Proteas team were firmly erased.

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