Pieter Malan admits it was "quite a mission" for him to finally make it to the UK to take up his contract as overseas player with Warwickshire.
Travel restrictions enforced by the pandemic delayed the South African’s arrival until last week when he belatedly made his Bears debut in the rain-affected draw at home to Worcestershire.
But the 31-year-old batsman, who has played three Tests, is delighted to be in Birmingham at last and has now embarked upon a different mission – to make a major contribution to the Bears both in terms of runs scored and impact on younger players around him.
“It was quite a mission to get here,” Malan said, “although Keith Cook and the travel agent did all the heavy lifting – for me it was just frustrating. I have always wanted to play county cricket and am really excited to have this opportunity so I just wanted to get going. It is great to be here at last and that fixtures come thick and fast in county cricket. Now I am here, I want to play cricket, I don’t want to sit around.
“I am here to do well for the club and contribute as much as I can in as many ways as possible. I have been around the game for a while and different challenges have taught me a lot of lessons about what I want and how I want to get there. This Bears side has gone past the rebuilding stage but is still growing and that is an exciting process to be part of. If I can add a bit of experience and help the younger batters skip some of the mistakes that I made, then great.”Pieter Malan
Malan is relishing his first crack at county cricket, his previous experience of English conditions having arrived in the leagues in Lancashire with Barrow and Ramsbottom.
“I really enjoyed my time playing in the Lancashire leagues,” he said. “I have played a lot of cricket in South Africa but now this is a different set of challenges; different conditions and opposition and the Dukes ball.
“Last week’s game was my first time at Edgbaston. I had been to Lord’s on a school tour, when I was much younger, and to Trent Bridge to watch my brother play an Under 14s game, but never before to Edgbaston. It’s a great stadium with world class facilities. The pitch for my first game was a really good cricket wicket and I’m really excited to call it my home ground.
“If all goes well, I would certainly be open to making it a longer-term thing. That is definitely something I would be interested in, but the last year has certainly taught us that no one knows what the future holds, so it’s best just to take it day by day.”
Malan is just thrilled to have bat in hand again after his convoluted journey to Edgbaston. As South Africa is on the red list of travel ban countries, he could not travel directly to the UK so had to fly to Qatar to get a connection to the Maldives. Ten days there was followed by five more in quarantine in a Birmingham hotel.
“It was a challenge, though the Maldives is not the worst place to have to spend ten days – the weather was a little bit warmer than the UK!” he said. “I wasn’t restricted to the hotel and had access to a gym and pool so I can’t complain. I spent most of it watching the Bears on the livestream which is fantastic.Pieter Malan
“The toughest part was being away from my family. I have a three-year-old daughter and, of course, I miss her and my wife very much. I think perhaps it is a little bit harder for cricketers with families. I am fine on my own and don’t mind sitting in a room entertaining myself, but being away from my family is the toughest part.”
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