SA20 League: ‘Backing myself’ key to Phehlukwayo’s return to form

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Photo Credit: SA20 League

It is almost impossible to believe that Andile Phehlukwayo is still only 27 years old.

The Paarl Royals all-rounder has been on the circuit for close to a decade, having made his professional debut back in 2014 whilst still a teenager.

His undoubted natural talent was on show early on when Phehlukwayo blitzed the Chennai Super Kings in the T20 Champions League in India.

Performances such as these ensured a rapid rise to the Proteas with Phehukwayo now a veteran of 122 internationals across formats.

But the journey has not always been a smooth one with Phehlukwayo not being able to consistently perform at the level required at international level. There have been sporadic match-winning performances, especially during the initial stages against Australia and New Zealand, but the selectors eventually lost faith in Phehlukwayo.

It led to him losing his national contract the last couple of years.

But often setbacks are the catalyst for a turnaround and Phehlukwayo has certainly put in the hard yards recently to get back to his best form.

The signs are promising that Phelukwayo may in fact be approaching the peak of his career with the Royals allrounder producing a couple of crucial cameos for the Proteas in white-ball cricket recently.

It certainly was evident at Boland Park on Friday evening that he may indeed be rediscovering his mojo as Phehlukwayo produced a superb all-rounder performance to get the Royals off to a winning start in Betway SA20 Season 2.

Royals off to a winning note at Boland Park

He struck a crucial 28 not out off just 14 deliveries to push the Royals to defendable 160/7 before closing out the Pretoria Capitals’ innings with figures of 2/29 to claim the Player of the Match award.

Phehlukwayo was certainly pleased that the hard graft behind the scenes is reaping the rewards.

“I give myself more time. Understanding how I should prepare. Try to keep it simple and play to my strengths. And then just backing myself,” he explained his new-found form.

“Batting opportunities are a huge thing, so when you are out there you need to understand the conditions. I’ve also developed my game to suit the conditions. I also understand the need to execute my skills.”

After entering the competition last season as a Wildcard, he is also now better suited to his role under new coach Shane Bond.

“Opportunity is a big thing for any player. Once you get the backing of the coaches and the team is quite nice because then you get the opportunity to express your skills and put in performances for the team,” Phehukwayo said.

“I think any batter would say they would like to face more balls, but I think whatever happens I need to be equipped to do whatever I need to do for the team at the time. That’s what I have been developing and trying to upskill. If we need 10 off two balls or 50 off 25, I need to be equipped for the situation and play both.

“It’s about understanding your role and then going with the momentum that you have,” he added.

The Paarl Royals go head-to-head with the Pretoria Capitals in the return fixture at Centurion on Sunday.

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