‘Magic Man’ relishes role on crease

2011-03-19 19:51

Robin Peterson – baptised “Magic Man” by City Press last week – is far too laid-back to ever be considered a busy bee, but the left-arm spinner’s brilliant form at the Cricket World Cup is a clear sign that he likes to be ­involved in the game.

When one considers Peterson’s current stats in the tournament – 14 wickets at an average of 13.50 in 47 overs with an economy rate of just 4.02; and 43 runs for once out and strike rate of 134.37 – it seems bizarre that the 31-year-old was considered a controversial selection for the World Cup.

Peterson has been playing for South Africa on and off (more off than on) since 2002 but has appeared in just 45 one-day internationals in that time. He has batted just 21 times in those matches and before this World Cup he had bowled his full ration of 10 overs just six times.

But in this World Cup he has been backed as an integral part of the team, Graeme Smith showing confidence in Peterson by opening the bowling with him against England, and the left-hander also scored the winning runs against India.

“I didn’t expect to play as big a role, but the guys have backed me, which I really appreciate.

As spinners, it’s always good to be backed because there are times when you’re going to get smashed, it’s the nature of the art.

It always helps you mature as a player when you get backed and you get game time,” ­Peterson told City Press.

Peterson said he had also been helped by a new attacking emphasis within the team.

“The main difference is how we think about spin; the biggest change is that we’re now attacking in these conditions.

We’re not just defending, we have catchers up. Before, the fielders used to spread to the boundary and the team would hope the spinner didn’t go for too many runs.

It’s a massively different mind-set for us – we’re thinking wickets which allows us to put the batsmen under pressure,” Peterson said.

While a nerveless, explosive 18 not out off just seven balls won a thrilling game against India, Peterson ended on the losing side despite a top-class spell of three for 22 against England in a ­similarly nail- biting match.

A man whose selection was widely criticised back home was suddenly a South African hero.

Peterson said he generally turned a deaf ear to negative public opinion.

“I haven’t really thought about whether I am under-appreciated or not.

Whenever I’ve been on tour, I’ve just prepared like I’m going to play in every game and that’s helped me stay mentally strong and focused.

I’m pretty relaxed and I don’t put pressure on myself,” he said.

The Port Elizabeth product ruled himself out of international cricket for two years by taking up a Kolpak contract with ­Derbyshire in 2008, but he says it was an excellent move.

“My time in county cricket has definitely played a big role; you’re playing day in, day out against quality internationals who play spin very well, so you really improve your skills,” Peterson said.

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