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November 27, 2012
Rory Kleinveldt made his Test debut with two of his best friends at his side: Vernon Philander, with whom he has spent seasons bowling with at the Cobras, and JP Duminy, who had been a team-mate since childhood where they both played at Victoria Cricket Club. But, nothing else about the match was too memorable for him. He went wicketless in 21 overs and conceded 97 runs. Disappointingly, he overstepped 12 times to make him the worst no-ball offender of the match. At the end of the Test, Kleinveldt, and almost everyone else, thought it unlikely he would play again on the tour. He may even have considered what he would need to do at the first-class level to be selected again in the future.
Kleinveldt accepted his fate with maturity. His lack of exaggeration suggested he would cherish a second chance but understood if he didn't get one immediately.
On the morning of the Adelaide Test - a match he was told he would be sitting out for - Kleinveldt found out Philander would not be able to play. Instead of soaking up his own good fortune, he immediately thought of his friend. "It just wasn't nice to replace him," he said. Half an hour later, he had to take the field and did not have any more time to think. It showed. Kleinveldt was more controlled from the get-go, even though Australia were on the attack. "I was very nervous before my debut but I was a lore more relaxed this time. I had nothing to lose."
In fact, there was much to gain. It was only in the 99th over of the match, by which time Australia had already scored 500 runs, that Kleinveldt took his first Test wicket. Peter Siddle edged one to slip and there was a lengthy check for the no-ball before the dismissal was confirmed. For someone who had problems with his front foot throughout, there was reason to be anxious again. "I was very relieved after I saw my foot landed just behind the line. To get the first one under the belt was pretty good," he said. It's his performance in the second innings that Kleinveldt will be banking to put him in contention for Perth. He dismissed the Australian top three in a spell during which his ability to use seam movement was on display. "There was a bit more pace in this wicket than in the Brisbane, and more carry. I enjoyed bowling on it," he said.
With talk growing that both sides will think of all-pace attacks for the third Test, Kleinveldt has reason to be hopeful that he will get the nod again, even though Philander is expected to recover in time. If he does, he will fulfill a boyhood goal. "It's always been a dream of mine because what I've heard from past players is that the pitch is a quick one. It would be nice for me get on there and have a go."
Already Kleinveldt has turned some hopes into realities. His father and uncle were both cricketers and the latter an exceptional bowler who was denied any chance of playing for South Africa because of Apartheid. For both those men, Kleinveldt is doing what they were never allowed to and he is aware of the magnitude of his success. "They didn't have these opportunities," he said. "They're very proud of my achievements and support me all the way. It's nice for me just to go out there and represent them." To see him play a part in a decider would be another massive moment for them.
Kleinveldt thinks South Africa will go in with the upper hand after their resilience with the bat in Adelaide, both from a mental and physical point of view. While Australia will be beaten down by their inability to take 20 wickets, their attack is also physically drained, evident in Peter Siddle's obvious exhaustion. "If it was our dressing room we'd be disappointed not to have won the Test," Kleinveldt said, before adding some special words for his first Test victim. "It will be nice for Graeme Smith to win the toss and bat first. I'm not sure Peter Siddle will enjoy that too much."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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