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Charl Willoughby

'I'd always be the one with the reddest trousers'

Former South Africa fast bowler Charl Willoughby is quite the stickler when it comes to shining the ball

Interview by Jack Wilson

February 8, 2014

Comments: 1 | Text size: A | A

Charl Willoughby celebrates the wicket of Yuvraj Singh, Somerset v Indians, Taunton, 2nd day, July 16, 2011
"Nerves got the better of me in my Test matches" © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Charl Willoughby

First time I dismissed a legend
I got Jacques Kallis out when we were young, but that was long before he had done what he has now. Back in 1999 I dismissed Brian Lara while playing for Boland in a tour game. I had him dropped at point and thought that was the chance gone. Then a few overs later he tried to pull and I had him caught at midwicket by Justin Ontong. It can be daunting when you're bowling at guys like this but I just had to believe in my own ability. I saw it as just another person I was competing against. On another day he could have destroyed me.

First and only Test wicket
Nerves got the better of me in my Test matches. I got Mohammad Ashraful caught at mid-off, but I didn't bowl particularly well that day. I didn't go for many but I didn't bowl my normal stuff. With regards to my Test career, I'd have liked to have played more. But I will always be able to say I ran the race and played Test cricket for South Africa.

First experience of playing cricket in England
In the early '90s I came across to play cricket in Chelmsford. I was only a youngster at 19 and I remember thinking it was just cold and wet. I got my head around the English conditions as the years went by, and I love England. It's not sunny here but it's home. The pace of the wickets were a really big thing and they were generally slow. Unless you were quite disciplined, you got exposed badly. I was never a big seam bowler but I learned how to get the ball moving in the air.

First thing you need to do to swing the ball
You need to get the guys shining it. Various teams I played for didn't really take care of the ball. I always took that responsibility. I used to pride myself on shining it all day long and I'd always be the one with the reddest trousers. It's the bowler's only weapon, so you've got to take care of it.

First time I ruffled a batsman
When I was an Under-13, I was always the fastest, even though I am not an out-and-out paceman. At school I was quite scary for some people! When I was 17, I started to get to men's pace but I knew I wasn't going to be a super paceman and I had to concentrate on other things in my game.

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Posted by SuperSharky on (February 12, 2014, 10:19 GMT)

I remember this tricky left-arm seamer. When Charl Willougby was at his peak, and I then felted that Proteas do need a left-armer as variation in the different formats, I can't help to feel that this bloke had to make way for transformation quotas. I'm glad that they at least gave him a Test Cap for the Proteas, but he could have played more games for them.

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