Keegan Petersen’s South Africa success shows the value of First Class experience

Test cricket
Keegan Petersen

Keegan Petersen was named man of the series as South Africa beat India in their Freedom Trophy Test series.

Petersen didn’t break any records on his way to top-scoring for the Proteas, but his contribution went beyond raw numbers.

A number that might be more significant than many realise is how many First Class matches Petersen played before making his Test debut.

Petersen’s career has been bubbling away since he made his debut for Boland in 2012.

It seemed only a matter of time before Petersen was either given his shot at the big-time or consigned to being labelled a franchise journeyman.

Petersen enjoyed his best season with the bat in 2018/19 while still with the Knights but his move to Durban has most certainly played a role in his elevation.

The feeling in South African cricket circles is that you can’t trust a Knights batsman’s average as a barometer of performance because of the flatness of the track at the Mangaung Oval.

Playing at Kingsmead, Petersen was a big part of ending the Dolphins long wait for a First Class title last season while batting on the challenging Kingsmead surface.

Petersen has been around the block and might have been forgiven for allowing himself to plateau, but he sought out a fresh challenge and rose to it, and as it happened his rise coincided with the Proteas dire need of a new number three.

A good player of spin who is very strong on his legs, there is an air of the subcontinent about Petersen and the prospect of him batting in Asia is an intriguing one.

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We will have to wait to see Petersen in action in Asia as the Proteas don’t have a Test match scheduled against Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka or even Afghanistan in 2022.

His experience of the vastly different conditions thrown up across South Africa in the First Class scene should prove valuable to him in his Test career.

Petersen’s next challenges will be facing the moving ball in New Zealand and England.

His technique suggests he should be able to adapt to swinging conditions, as Petersen tends not to chase the ball outside off too often and takes full toll of anything on his legs.

With over 100 First Class matches to his name Petersen is well-prepared for the rigours of Test cricket.