Kyle Nipper, the 29-year-old Dolphins all-rounder, was watching the closing stages of the T20 Global League draft on Sunday, thinking that it was becoming an increasingly long shot that he would be involved in the much-anticipated new tournament that starts on November 3.
Nipper, slow left-arm orthodox and a left-handed batsman, lives in Pietermaritzburg and, just like the famous last runner to beat the clock in the Comrades Marathon that ends every second year in the KwaZulu-Natal capital, he was the focus of sporting drama on Sunday as he was the last of the 144 players chosen in the draft in Cape Town, picked by outgoing Proteas coach Russell Domingo for the Pretoria Mavericks.
“I had been out on the golf course during the day and once I got home I started streaming the draft. It was quite nerve-wracking and I thought it wasn’t going to happen for me, so it was a pleasant surprise to be the last guy chosen. I’m extremely excited about this tournament,” Nipper said on Sunday evening.
Nipper has spent a long time on the fringes of the Dolphins squad, having made his debut for them back in 2009/10, but has never made a fool of himself at franchise level, with an economy rate of 7.88 with the ball in the dozen T20 Challenge matches he has played.
And now he is part of a squad that includes global superstars like AB de Villiers, Dwayne Bravo and Morne Morkel, as well as fellow spinners Keshav Maharaj and Johan Botha, the veteran former Proteas captain now based in Australia.
“I have no concerns about being in Pretoria, I would have taken anywhere. I feel like I am part of KZN and I’ve tried to be loyal as a homegrown player, although I am a bit disappointed that I haven’t played more because I believe I’ve proven myself more than I had to.
“But it’s awesome to be chosen by the Proteas coach, hopefully he’s seen a bit of potential in me. Obviously they know what they want and it’s nice to be involved in their plans. I hope I get to play a couple of games, but I’m very happy for Kesh, he’s taken to the international stage so well, he’s got that experience now and someone like Johan Botha has been around the world. So I’m very keen just to learn a bit more from them,” Nipper said.