Right-arm quick Lutho Sipamla impressed on his T20I debut for South Africa, and has now opened up on the journey to and emotions behind his international bow.
"Walking onto the pitch to a full house and knowing that I am realising a childhood dream was an impeccable moment," Sipamla said. "Actually, words cannot describe how I felt at that moment. The nerves were definitely there. I guess anyone will be nervous on the day of making a debut for the Proteas. It was about controlling the emotions and soaking everything in."
He played a vital role for his side, conceding 23 runs in his four-over spell and helping rein Pakistan in after they had raced to 70/1 in the first six overs, demonstrating the key attribute of being able to bowl to his skipper’s plan.
"Our captain David Miller helped me during the game and he also allowed me to bowl the way I wanted to bowl," said Sipamla. "When he introduced me, he gave me suggestions on field placings and how to bowl because he saw we were in trouble and not bowling the right lines. He asked me to bowl straight and try to control the run rate and I played the role of controlling rather than taking wickets."
The only disappointment for Sipamla was that he went wicketless, but he’s confident that if he keeps performing well, eventually rewards will come. “I would like to take a wicket every time I bowl but they will come by doing the right things over and over again,” he said. “It is a process that will come with time, but I am looking forward to the moment of taking that first wicket for the Proteas if I get to play in the next game.
“It will definitely be surreal to get my first wicket and a personal milestone. But hopefully it will help the team to win because at the end of the day it is about the team and not individuals.”
In any event, his efforts were crucial as his side went on to secure a series-sealing seven-run win. They were also a continuation of his good from in the Mzansi Super League, where Sipamla first caught the eye of the selectors, finishing third on the wicket-takers charts.
He was representing Tshwane Spartans alongside South African legend AB de Villiers, and caught the eye of the big-hitting batsman. “I think he has all the credentials to become a serious fast bowler for South Africa in the future,” de Villiers said. “He is a fantastic kid. He has the right head on his shoulders and he needs to be given proper guidance and support to learn and improve over the next few years. I am looking forward to watching him grow”
It’s clear that the appreciation is mutual. "I gained a lot of experience playing with AB," said Sipamla. "Sharing the dressing room, training and playing with him was life-changing for me because he kept me calm. His presence calms you because he speaks to you and gives you plans. I learned a lot from that experience because at times he allowed me to set the field by myself, according to what I wanted, to help my bowling."
The final T20I takes place on 6 February.