Erwee talks about his 73 runs and lower-order contributions

Sarel Erwee does not get too fazed by much – not dropping a simple catch in the first over of the day, not the unique conditions at Lord’s nor the tricky pitch he had to bat on on the second day of the first Test against England on Thursday.

Erwee handled all of that and the England attack with a well-controlled, highly-composed innings of 73 that laid the foundation for South Africa’s first innings total of 289/7 at stumps and a lead of 124 after day two.

Erwee was at first slip when he juggled and dropped a catch given by England’s top-scorer Ollie Pope off Kagiso Rabada. The spearhead of the attack also bounced back from that disappointment, removing Pope for 73 five overs later.

Also read: Rabada gives Proteas momentum on day two against England

The left-handed opener, playing just his fifth Test, then had to come in and handle the famous slope at Lord’s, as well as a capacity crowd and the famous pair of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad on a pitch that was giving the new ball plenty of assistance.

“The spilt catch certainly wasn’t planned, but that’s cricket. It can happen, especially in the UK where the ball wobbles a bit,” Erwee said phlegmatically at the end of the second day.

“My primary job is as a batsman and trying to get my team off to a decent start with the skipper.” [He succeeded with an excellent opening stand of 85 with Dean Elgar].

“Visualisation is quite important for me to get used to the environment, especially at a place like Lord’s which can be quite overwhelming. I try and gather what type of energies the crowd will give off and the bowlers I’m going to face.

“So I watch a lot of videos, quiet my mind and take it all in. It’s working nicely but I mustn’t get ahead of myself. The most important thing is to just watch each ball at a time. You can get caught up, but if you stay in the moment then things generally go well,” Erwee said.

The 32-year-old also used his mental strength to handle the bowler-friendly pitch and the notorious Lord’s slope, which sees the gradient drop 2.5 metres from the north end of the ground to the south .

“Conditions got trickier and the pitch became a bit two-paced, plus the scoring was quite slow after the rain on the first day, there was a heavy outfield.

“But I had to take all of that out of my mind and just watch the ball and play as intensely as possible. The slope does play a role at times too, but we were very fortunate to play our warm-up game in Canterbury, where there is a slope as well.

“That worked in our favour and we were able to figure out what would work at Lord’s, where the slope is even more hectic, and what to line up differently,” Erwee said.

Young Jansen shines

Young Marco Jansen (41*) and the more experienced Keshav Maharaj (41) then added a rollicking 72 for the seventh wicket in 12-and-a-half overs, giving the Proteas renewed energy.

“Watching Kesh and Marco bat gave a bit more energy, the changeroom was buzzing even more,” Erwee said. “We’re in a good position and we’re full of confidence.

“We have prepped well and we take a bit of momentum into the third day with that partnership at the back end of the day.

“If we can bring the same energy tomorrow [Friday], then we’ll stay ahead of the game, I’m sure,” Erwee said.

Also read: Who is Sarel Erwee? Five facts and figures

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