Cricket365 exclusive Q and A: Mthokozisi Shezi’s best WhatsApp message ever

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Jonhenry Wilson chatted exclusively to South Africa’s latest ODI recruit Mthokozisi Shezi about success on an individual level in Australia, some big news via WhatsApp, a wise move to Cape Town, his relationship with Lance Klusener, a burning ambition to represent his race in fitting fashion – and more.

Cricket365: Presumably you got the call from Cricket South Africa selection convener Andrew Hudson, welcoming you to the squad to tour Zimbabwe…

Shezi: I think I had about 60 missed calls after I switch my phone on – I haven’t replied to one of them. To be honest, I was away in Australia, and my phone was off, so I didn’t necessarily get a call from Andrew – but maybe he is among one of those missed calls.

I did, however, speak to SA A coach Vincent Barnes. He is also a South African selector. I actually got a WhatsApp message from him, because I was busy flying home from Australia at the time. I am very happy, very, very, very excited. It was a bit of shock, the news. It was a bit of a shock, although I had a very good tour in Australia. But for things to be happening this fast, this quickly, I just glorify God for it. Things like this only happen because of Jesus Christ. It’s why I play the game.

Cricket365: From Makhaya Ntini to Aaron Phangiso and beyond, you’re the latest in a long, proud line of black African Proteas cricketers…

Shezi: It’s an honour for me to be a part of that group that has played for South Africa, as an African player. I want to be able to give back first, represent the others that are not playing, but are in the townships. I want to make the legacy grow. Aaron, Makhaya – they’re good friends of mine. Lonwabo Tsotsobe too – he is a good friend.

Cricket365: You were on the losing side three times in four attempts during South Africa A’s recent limited-overs tri-series with Australia A and India A, but succeed on a personal level in taking 11 wickets…

Shezi: It was my second time in Australia, but my first time in Darwin. It’s a very hot place, very similar to Durban. There is almost literally no winter there. It was good. The wickets were very flat, but some mornings you would get something out of the pitches. Australia A and India A had very good teams. We did not win as much as we wanted to. But I had a good experience, playing with and against international players. We competed well. I got good exposure.

Cricket365: You recently changed franchises, moving from the Dolphins in Durban to the Cobras in Cape Town…

Shezi: I miss the Dolphins, to be honest. I didn’t get much game time there. I was looking for game time, but was not getting it. I got a call from Paul Adams in January, who asked if I was interested in the joining Cobras. We spoke about game time, we spoke about competing. I really want to compete – and get a good chance of playing a lot. I don’t want to be first in the team. I just want to compete like anyone else.

Cricket365: Declared Bowler of the Match in the T20 Challenge semi-final against the Titans and again in the final against the Cobras, this week’s call-up was arguably set in place in February already…

Shezi: A direct impact on us winning games has been important to me. Like in the final of last season’s T20 competition. It was great to be Man of the Match – and be part of a trophy win. We had not won a trophy in a while, so to be part of a big win made me happy.

I hold that dear in my heart. It got my name out there. I have a great relationship with coach Lance Klusener. He helped me a lot with my growth, my learning. He helped me become mentally strong. It was just sad that I did not feature in his first-choice XI for most of the game. I’m happy that I spent a lot of time with him. It influenced me for the better a lot.

Cricket365: Your South Africa A team-mate Kagiso Rabada will also be going to Zimbabwe, but as a non-playing member of the squad. Rilee Rossouw, meanwhile, will likely fill the void at three in the batting order left by the retirement of Jacques Kallis…

Shezi: Kagiso and I have grown to be friends. We got closer in Darwin. He is very clever, very talented, very skillful. He has something to offer South African cricket. He is will to learn and has a good head on him. I’m happy to hear that he is coming with us to Zimbabwe. I’m sure it won’t be long before he gets a full call-up to the Proteas team.

Rilee is a fantastic player. He is a really, good, attacking player. I call him ‘fearless’ because every time I play against him – or I see him play against teams – he plays fearlessly. It’s nice to see that. The recognition is good for him. He has been performing well for several seasons. I am very happy for him.

Cricket365: Scores of four not out, duck, duck, three not out, five, one, six not out and three since March don’t suggest you have much ability with the bat…

Shezi: I love batting. If people know me, they will tell you the truth that I love batting. I might love batting more than bowling. I really want to do some work with the bat and grow, help the team somehow. Whether it’s scoring the final 10 runs, or batting out 10 overs, I want to be able to contribute like that.

I scored a first-class century against South Western Districts a while back. It was just one of those days, as everything I hit I went to the boundary. But I will be a tail-ender, probably batting somewhere close to 11 for South Africa.

Jonhenry Wilson

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