Sport / Cricket

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
21 Feb 2017
10:20 am

Andile Phehlukwayo has a gift more priceless than talent

Heinz Schenk

The young Proteas all-rounder clearly has an almost unnatural sense of calm ... and it's a skill he needs to use fully in future.

Calmest man in any room: Andile Phehlukwayo. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images.

They don’t call Andile Phehlukwayo the next Lance Klusener because of the way he can whack a cricket ball.

In fact, these two men’s gift is more priceless: they are unbelievably calm under pressure.

Also read: Andile Phehlukwayo: The man who made AB de Villiers look junior 

Phehlukwayo showed that quality on Sunday when he guided the Proteas to victory in the first one-dayer against New Zealand in Hamilton.

Other far more experienced men like AB de Villiers, JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis found the going tough on a “strange pitch” but not the 20-year-old all-rounder.

He came in, never panicked and conquered.

“I enjoy pressure situations,” said Phehlukwayo.

“I try to give myself time to hit straight, execute my game plans and assess the conditions a lot quicker.”

This is not the first time he’s done this – just ask the Cape Cobras and the Australians.

Yet if you ask Roger Telemachus, who oversaw Phehlukwayo’s elevation into the national squad last season as the Dolphin’s stand-in coach, he’ll tell you that’s only half of the story.

“I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a young man that cool under pressure,” said the former Proteas limited-overs seamer.

“People always hammer on the importance of talent and skill to become an international player. We’ve seen enough talented men fall by the wayside. What will make Andile an exception is his calmness.

“We underestimate being strong in the mind. Not everyone has that gift.”

The humble Phehlukwayo hasn’t (yet) given much insight into how he keeps such a cool head.

But there are some pointers.

Also read: It’s a crazy world! Kagiso Rabada is a millionaire … at 21

The former national Under-19 star grew up in Port Shepstone, where his mother, Thando, worked as a domestic worker.

She was the only breadwinner of the household and worked long hours to keep her boy in school.

Her perseverance was rewarded when her son was spotted during a hockey festival and given a scholarship at Glenwood.

The old worldview believes women are too emotional for young men to develop a sense of level-headedness and calmness.

Phehlukwayo is proof of that.

He grew up in a household with three women – mother, grandmother and sister – and that steely feminine influence has made him far more balanced than some would be willing to admit.

Don’t underestimate though the power of a winning team to help him settle in.

“From when I first came into the side, you can sense the belief and energy in the squad. They’re always backing each other, always positive. We’re in a good, happy space,” said Phehlukwayo.

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