‘I’ve been preparing for this since I was a little boy’
FARHAAN Behardien is used to people not wanting him around.
For instance, when he took two runs off the first ball of the 49th over of South Africa’s innings against West Indies in Sydney last Friday.
And that with AB de Villiers incandescent on 127 not out. What did Behardien think he was doing putting himself back on strike?
“When I ran two, the crowd booed me,” Behardien said yesterday. “My friends back home, they actually made a joke. They sent me a message and we had a good chuckle about it.”
So Behardien was fully prepared to see the disappointment on the gathered journalists’ faces in Canberra yesterday when he and not the advertised Dale Steyn pitched up for the Proteas press conference.
Apparently, the fires near Steyn’s home at Stonehurst in Cape Town prevented him from talking to reporters.
Steyn’s best statistic of the tournament going into South Africa’s game against Ireland early this morning is that he is 46th among wicket-takers.
He does not rate in the top 50 in average, economy rate or strike rate.
And Steyn, who would play his 100th one-day international if he took the field today, is the highest ranked bowler at the World Cup.
By his skyscraper standards, Steyn has had a simplex of a tournament. And now this – a mountain fire threatening his home.
“Of course, it does affect you in some sort of way, but we have quite a strong support structure around us: the people and the friends and the family that’s here,” Behardien said.
“If there’s any opportunity to help them out or to be a comfort shoulder or whatever, we’ll do so.”
Steyn could answer the questions about him with a dominant performance against the Irish today.
“I’ve faced him a few times on the domestic scene, and it’s not fun when he’s at full tilt,” Behardien said.
But, in a team studded with stars like De Villiers and Steyn, Behardien struggles to stick out.
De Villiers is a phenomenon from a distance. What is he like in the dressing room?
“It’s overwhelming. It’s bewilderment. It’s all of the above. It’s just jaw-dropping stuff.”
That did not make Behardien feel like a second-class citizen. “It’s been coming a long time, for 20 years. I’ve been preparing for this since I was a little boy.”
What with Steyn having fallen victim to a sore throat early in the piece, De Villiers overcoming gastro to shoot the lights out in Sydney, Vernon Philander hobbled by a hamstring injury and JP Duminy suffering from a side strain, added responsibility was just a niggle away for players like Behardien.
“You never know, there might be an injury or somebody might pick up a stomach bug, or whatever. The emphasis is on the 15 instead of just the XI.”
Besides, sometimes even low-key players have the last laugh. Like Behardien did after the crowd booed him on Friday: “Luckily I hit the next ball for six.”