Playing cricket is extremely dear to pace bowler Lizaad Williams, but the 27-year-old admitted on Thursday that he was probably only going to play for another couple of years when he began last season by moving from the Cape Cobras to the Titans.
And now, with the Titans Player of the Year and three other major awards to his name, he is preparing for his first tour with the Proteas as they head off to the West Indies next week.
The way Williams has gone from journeyman professional to international cricketer was one of the best stories of the troubled 2020/21 summer.
“I didn’t expect anything when I moved to the Titans, I just wanted the opportunity to play more and I knew a new environment would push me to be better,” Williams told The Citizen on Thursday.
“I’m very thankful to the game and I appreciate it, I’m grateful just to play any game of cricket, even club cricket. But when I came to Centurion, I was in the mental space that I would probably play for just two more years.
“But I did not lose my passion and I wanted to see if I could fulfil my potential, so I gave it my all and things happened way quicker than I imagined, which just shows God is in control and he knows when the right time is.
“Playing for the Proteas fulfils my lifelong dream, although it was emotional because I wanted my mother to be there on my debut but she passed away in 2019.”
Having left his younger brother in Vredenburg he has quickly become an integral part of a band of brothers at the Titans, winning the Players’ Player of the Year award on Wednesday night as well.
And now his travels will take him far across the seas to the Caribbean, where he will be a member of both the Test and T20 squads.
“I know the pitches over there are usually slow and low, but coming from the coast, growing up around Paarl, I’m used to similar conditions,” Williams said.
“I know on the Highveld you get more reward for fast bowling with nicks to the slips, but it’s almost easier for me on the coast. Your dismissals there are more lbws, caught in the covers or midwicket, it’s hard graft.
“But the beauty of the game is you never know what you’re going to get and South Africa probably has the most differing conditions between all the venues you’ll find anywhere in the world.
“If you’re playing for the Proteas, if you want to compete with the best, then you have to be able to adapt to any conditions. I train with that mindset – using the new ball, an old ball, a ball that reverses. You can’t just rely on bounce always.”