Sue Duminy: Welcome to London!

By admin
13 June 2013

Sue gives us a glimpse into the life of cricketers and their families on tour.

A hearty welcome from warm and sunny London!

About a week ago I joined my husband here for the ICC Champions Trophy tournament. JP is finally (and literally) back on his feet. The team first attended a practice camp in Amsterdam run by the world-famous South African-born discoverer and adventurer Mike Horn.

Mike, who now lives in Switzerland, gained worldwide recognition in 2000 after journeying around the equator on his own and without motorised transport. In 2002 he set out on a solo trip around the Arctic Circle that took him two years and three months, and in 2006 he and Norwegian adventurer Børge Ousland became the first two men to walk to the North Pole without dogs or motorised transport – and in complete darkness.

Mike draws on his experiences to motivate and inspire sportspeople and others undertaking difficult tasks. He held motivation sessions with India’s national cricket team in 2010 and 2011, organised by Gary Kirsten, their coach at the time – and in 2011 the team won the Cricket World Cup for the first time in 28 years. After being appointed chief coach of the Proteas Gary asked Mike to conduct a motivation session with them and in 2012 they tackled an expedition in Switzerland to prepare for the Test against England. The Proteas won, claiming the top spot as the world’s No 1 Test team. Read about Mike’s amazing travels and experiences at mikehorn.com. Here are some photographs from the Proteas’ practice camp in Amsterdam.

  Die Protea-span in Amsterdam nadat JP 150 (nie uit nie) aangeteken het op hul eerste eendag-oefenwedstryd teen Nederland.

Die vroue agter die spelers . . .

Behind every man . . .

It was great to rejoin the Proteas after seven months at home. I’m enormously privileged to be able to travel with my husband, see the world and at the same time support him in his career. The team is like a family – we call it the Protea family. The women are all good friends – we spend more time in hotels than in our homes!

Unlike rugby players cricketers are away from home for months on end so provision is made for families who want to travel with them.

Gary is an amazing role model for the players. He maintains a good balance between his demanding career and his family. It’s a tough lifestyle. It requires a lot of sacrifice, time, patience and trust.

He spends only a month or two a year at home so it’s understandable he wants to step down as coach. We’ll say farewell with a heavy heart but we know his two young sons and baby daughter need him more. Thanks to his lovely wife, Debbie, for allowing us to have him for so long. Trying to raise kids in hotels requires an unbelievable amount of sacrifice and discomfort. Thanks to your husband SA is very proud of the Proteas!

Way back when . . .

After completing my degree in Pretoria I busied myself trying to find a job in Cape Town. When I met JP in 2008 it was love at first sight and the rest, as they say, is history. Two weeks after we met he left for two months in Australia. I was madly in love and with an aching heart said goodbye to the man of my dreams. It was horrible – the two months felt like two years!

We resumed our relationship when he got back and six months later I moved to Cape Town lock, stock and barrel. A year later we got engaged, and married a year after that.

I was alone in Cape Town with my two suitcases when JP left on his first tour and I had to find my feet pretty fast. My mom and dad were thousands of kilometres away and I was alone in a quiet house. In three weeks I would leave to join my husband.

That’s when I realised this relationship would be different from any previous relationships I’d had and a full-time job wasn’t going to work unless I was allowed 150 days of leave a year to be able to see my husband.

After four years I can finally say we’ve found our feet and managed to create a good balance between JP’s career and our marriage. And no, it isn’t as glamorous as many might think!

I’ve often said the advantages are great but the disadvantages are just as big. In these four years I’ve been with him on his birthday only once (thanks to his injury!)

My birthday falls during the New Year Test series, so no parties. We’ve been together on Valentine’s Day only once and he was away the day I was awarded my degree, the day my brother got married and the day his best friend turned 30. Brief holidays and even weddings can be planned only days or weeks beforehand. When I said goodbye to him at the airport in 2011 we didn’t know when or where we’d see each other again! If they reached a semi or the final he wouldn’t come home. That meant I had to fly to India or the West Indies.

Air tickets are booked only days beforehand so bags and visas always have to be ready. We’ve become accustomed to Skype; if I go to JP’s mom for a Sunday meal the laptop is on the table with us and my husband joins us. Weird!

JP and I going to a Sunday meal at his mom’s home.

JP braaiing with friends and family members.

I’m often asked if we’re irritated by people bothering us when we go out. No, we aren’t because at home he’s mine; when we’re out, he’s everyone’s.

I’ve had to get used to all types of comments by members of the public. Sometimes I cry myself to sleep after the hateful tweets and remarks made if the guys lose.

It’s so easy for some people to yell from the pavilion or use their computers to criticise our players as useless, or say a particular player should be dropped from the team.

After the game those people go home to their families, eat good home-cooked meals and sleep snugly in their own beds, while the “useless” player who’s been bad-mouthed goes back to his hotel room alone after being out in the sun or cold for eight hours.

Many people seem to think if the Proteas lose the team isn’t affected, because they never see the players’ emotions behind closed doors. This game can soon affect your mind, spirit and sense of self-worth. If a player’s mind isn’t in the right place his playing form won’t be either. Many players prefer to have their wives and families with them on tour as their presence creates a nurturing sense of confidence and support. They have someone they can turn to and talk with if things run badly.

A psychologist accompanies the team on tour to talk with the players and motivate them too. A positive attitude and confidence on the part of the public also plays a huge role in determining how the team fares. I believe if we South Africans stand together through the good and bad times it would make a huge difference in future matches.

I fully understand why some players appear nasty or arrogant. One moment you’re a hero, the next you’re being bad-mouthed and attacked by the media and public.

The players try to win every match. They play their hearts out but it’s humanly impossible to win absolutely every match. Essentially they’re also ordinary people with emotions and feelings who have good and bad days.

Okay, enough of that. It’s wonderful, an absolute privilege, to be married to a man who represents his country. Many people look up to JP. I constantly admire his lovely attitude, the fact that he always sees the positive side of everything, that he never judges anyone, that he’ll always help others before helping himself – and that he always looks at me as if I’m the only woman in the world, and the most beautiful.

And the fact that material things aren’t important to him; instead his priorities in life are happiness and peace. I thank God every day for sending this wonderful man to me. I sometimes feel a lifetime with him would be too short, and that time should slow down so I can share another hour or two with him every day.

With such a blessed marriage the sacrifices and time spent alone at home are more than worth it.

To all those women still searching for Mr Right: throw away that list of what he should and shouldn’t be. Life has a way of giving you what you least expect. Make sure you don’t let the opportunity slip past you.

Regards from London.

-Sue Duminy

*Sue is married to Proteas cricketer JP Duminy.

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