Such was the crisis of confidence South African cricket was suffering at the start of the ODI series against England earlier this year that there were observers who felt the Proteas were missing a trick not immediately including Kyle Verreynne.
The 22-year-old Cape Cobras star, as a gifted wicketkeeper-batsman, possessed all the skills required at that stage to make his elevation immediate.
He could’ve added dynamism to the middle-order and given the overburdened Quinton de Kock a breather from the gloves.
Verreynne’s lockdown revelations
- It’s all about ‘small activities’: “When I’m not staying fit and active, I play quite a lot of PlayStation. I’m also catching up on the latest series on streaming platforms. It’s just about keeping busy.”
- No new skills (yet): “Yeah, I haven’t really learnt or tried anything new. I have been making quite a lot of smoothies, but that’s really just down to me not having much else to do! I’ve been coming up with a few new recipes that I’m trying out.”
- Brushing up on the short game: “I’ve been practicing my chipping and putting in the garden. Golf is probably my biggest hobby.”
Instead, a more conservative selection policy prevailed and Verreynne was merely a squad member.
And it’s the best thing that could’ve happened to him.
“A lot of people thought I was very disappointed, but I wasn’t,” he said on Tuesday.
“It was the best thing for me then. I got to encounter an international team’s culture, interact with the experienced guys and just gain experience.
“It’s important to determine during training the intensity that is required at that level. Having those few weeks just to learn was so beneficial because I just felt that much better prepared when we faced the Aussies.”
“It really prepared me for what I would encounter.”
Verreynne certainly isn’t talking bollocks in that regard.
Making his debut in Paarl, the former Wynberg pupil made an accomplished 48 against a vaunted Aussie attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood – some would say the best one in the world.
“I just felt that much more prepared. You obviously always want to play, but things work out well.”
He proved that was no fluke by crafting a run-a-ball 50 in the final ODI in Potchefstroom.
Yet in these times of a mad dash towards T20 stardom and its riches, Verreynne – who nonetheless boasts a strike rate of over 120 in the shortest form – has the old-school ambition of playing Test cricket.
There’s no better indication of that than him pointing out that twin centuries against the Titans – 155 and 115 – in the domestic four-day series was a highlight this season.
“I was really proud of that effort. In future, I really want to play Test cricket. I’ve told myself that I want to pour a lot of focus on my red-ball game during the off-season.
“But for now, I just want to retain my place in the ODI team and keep contributing.”