Cricket is never far from FRIEDEL DE WET’s mind despite injury keeping him out of the Proteas final Test against England. Away from the pitch he’s focusing on the nursery business he and wife ALECIA run on their smallholding in Rustenburg, North West.
His landscaping skills are evident - the garden in front of their home is lush and well tended and stone paving winds to the front door.
Working with plants is good for him, he says. “Professional sport is such a stressful way to make a living and working in the garden allows me to relax. I can let my mind wander and dream.”
He’d almost given up hope of playing for SA when he was called up to the squad but a vertebra injury sidelined him when he’d barely started to prove himself.
“Bowling is not a natural action so injuries happen,” he says. “But my dream to play for the Proteas has finally come true. I remember thinking the selectors had it all wrong when they said I was in. At 29 you begin to think your time has come and gone so it was even more amazing.”
And his injury can’t erase the joy of his Proteas debut in the first Test against England. “What made it more special is that I shared it with Makhaya Ntini’s 100th Test. Mak carried me through those five days. Between every ball he came to talk to me.”
Friedel seems content with life and he and Alecia hope to start a family soon. Despite not playing in the final Test his boyhood dream has come true. He also learnt valuable lessons in recent years, he says, especially from Dave Nosworthy, his coach at the Highveld Lions.
“He taught me if you work hard, prepare and take care of the little things it’s easier to take advantage of opportunity when it comes. These days I play cricket week by week and don’t look too far ahead.”