August 6, 2008

Impersonating Jacques

Paul Harris
Plenty of beers after South Africa's Edgbaston win, and Neil McKenzie's impression of Kallis



'Neil McKenzie is a hilarious guy and he was in good form with a few impressions. His impersonation of Jacques Kallis bowling from the City End into a strong, cold wind was especially funny' © Getty Images

We experienced an amazing high after the win at Edgbaston, but we are back to normal again for the final Test. We did celebrate hard in Birmingham, though.

A few of the boys had plenty of beers but they were well earned. We stayed in the dressing room at Edgbaston until about midnight, just sitting round chatting and laughing and taking in what we had achieved. We enjoyed the win and then enjoyed each other's company, which I think is important for teams to do.

Neil McKenzie is a hilarious guy and he was in good form with a few impressions. His impersonation of Jacques Kallis bowling from the City End into a strong, cold wind was especially funny, and to get his point over about the power of the wind he turned the fan in the dressing room up to full power. We got the joke and I'm sure Jacques and Graeme enjoyed it as well. It was good banter all evening. Some of the team went on into the night and took in a few pubs on Broad Street, which is one of Birmingham's livelier areas on a Saturday evening.

Just when we were all expecting a relaxing and much-needed lie-in on Sunday morning, the fire alarm went off in our hotel. Some of the guys had to take the stairs from the 12th floor and I can tell you there were a few sombre faces sitting on the kerb outside. I include myself in that as I was definitely nursing a bit of a headache.

On the game itself, we were always confident we would chase down the runs, even as many as 280. We know we have a strong batting line-up but we also had the knowledge that we had chased down testing totals against India and Pakistan 18 months ago at Newlands, so we had proved we could chase under pressure.

We were quite nervous at times during the run-chase, though, especially when we were 90-odd for four. Fortunately AB de Villiers steadied the ship with Graeme and then Mark Boucher came in to finish it off. I'm sure Bouch has never played a better 45 not out than that innings. But obviously Graeme was our real match-winner. What guts and determination to see us through the way he did. He showed what a great leader he is.

Personally, it was enjoyable to get Pietersen and Flintoff out in the same over during their second innings. The wicket started to turn a bit as it always does later in the game at Edgbaston, and I was happy to have made a contribution.

We have one game to go at The Oval and we want to win it as much as the others. We've played the better cricket in this series and we owe it to ourselves to see the series out and win it 3-0. Some guys may relax a little and that could allow them to express themselves in a positive way, though we won't forget that a patient approach in our batting has been the reason why we have come out on top in these games, so we won't abandon the plans that have worked so well for us either.

Ultimately we want to finish strongly and really give it a go. I have never played there so personally I am keen to get amongst the wickets, in front my family, who include aunts, uncles and my grandmother.

 
 
Just when we were all expecting a relaxing and much-needed lie-in on Sunday morning, the fire alarm went off in our hotel. Some of the guys had to take the stairs from the twelfth floor and I can tell you there were a few sombre faces sitting on the kerb outside. I include myself in that as I was definitely nursing a bit of a headache
 

England have obviously made a few changes since Edgbaston, with Michael Vaughan going out and Kevin Pietersen coming in. It's not really our issue who they make captain but I know that KP is a quality player and a great batsman who takes the game to you. They obviously wanted a player who could captain them in Test, ODI and Twenty20 cricket and KP ticks all the boxes. It will be interesting to see how he goes and how he handles the pressures of the job and the media. He is quite a confident guy and I'm sure he will do well.

Finally, the squad for the one-day series was named on Tuesday, and unfortunately my name wasn't in it. Mickey Arthur and Graeme always told me that Johan Botha was No. 1 for the ODIs and that I was No. 2, so it's not as though this news came as any great shock but it was still disappointing nonetheless.

Maybe if the Champions Trophy goes ahead in the subcontinent they may decide that two spinners are needed, and that could bring me back into contention, but that's obviously up to the selectors. It would be great to get a call-up.

South Africa spinner Paul Harris' diaries will appear on Cricinfo throughout the England series