From a middle order batsman during his academy days to an award winning opening batsman for the Hollywoodbets Dolphins, Sarel Erwee has come a long way and his recent accolades culminated in a call up to the South Africa A side to tour India in July.
SJ, as he is called by his team mates, acknowledges that his cricket career has taken longer to blossom than he would have liked, but the amount of support that he received from his loved ones and those closest to him, fuelled his perseverance.
“My cricket career does actually feel like it has taken ‘forever’ to kick off, however for me it was all about the process and if I followed that process it was either going to happen as soon as possible or it was going to take a bit of time,” the hard-hitting opener said candidly.
“Luckily, I had family and friends that supported me in my cricket journey, so whether it took two or three years or the many years that it has actually taken me, it has a lot to do with the support that I had and I was always going to keep striving to reach the pinnacle.”
Regardless of the support and the dream for a big break in his career, the 28 year-old had to come to terms with the fact that, cricket might not give him enough to put food on the table and had some tough decisions to make.
“There came a time in my career, probably three years ago when I actually did decide that I was giving up cricket at the end of the season,” he admitted.
At that time, SJ was still playing for KZN Inland and he felt as though his career had come to a stand-still – and age was not on his side.
“To be honest, I was not progressing in my career – I had made my debut for the Dolphins during the 2013/14 season and thereafter things went silent for the remainder of the year.
“So for me it felt like my career was stagnant and I was getting older so I thought maybe I should accept this as my reality.”
Thankfully, that very same year he had thought of throwing in the towel, Erwee made another appearance for the Dolphins and due to his excellent performance and consistency through that season; he was rewarded with a contract.
Considering the amount of years that he has spent on the field, Erwee has acquired a vast knowledge of the game and the elements that every cricket player should be aware of that are part and parcel of the sport.
“The work ethic that I have now is probably much higher than when I first started,” he added. “I think those three years were crucial as a youngster.
“I worked hard, but the way I am working now, is harder but also smarter – doing the right things at the right time, whereas at that time it was just hitting balls and training without being specific.”
Erwee went on to say that the biggest highlight of his career on the field has to be the entire 2017/18 Dolphins campaign.
“I think this whole season has been quite a highlight; the certain times that I have scored runs for the Dolphins, Hong Kong Sixes victory, winning the Africa T20 Cup, Momentum One Day Cup and reaching the final of the Ram Slam.
“The one that probably stands out for me though is the century that I scored in Centurion against Cobras during our Ram Slam T20 semi-final where there was quite a full stadium and if I look now, that was my moment.
“The feeling I had then, is almost like the one I had when I received that SA A call up – it is just indescribable.”
Erwee has amassed just under 4000 runs in his first-class career with a highest score of 200, credits his success to a pool of people whom he looks up to and have helped shape his career, amongst those are Divan Van Wyk, Shane Burger, Imraan Khan and an England cricketer, Jason Roy.
The SA A will depart for the India tour four-day series late in July.