If Stiaan van Zyl had a sense of familiarity during Sussex’s Royal London One-Day Cup win over Glamorgan earlier this week it was hardly surprising.
At one stage van Zyl, whose 96 helped Sussex to a much-needed victory, was facing two fellow South African bowlers – Marchant de Lange and Craig Meschede – with another, Chris Cook a few yards behind him keeping wicket.
But it’s the unfamiliarity – of English pitches and conditions and a different cricketing culture – which was the main behind the 29-year-old’s decision to give up international cricket, register as a Kolpak and move to Hove on a three-year contract during the winter.
And just under a month after arriving, van Zyl’s decision paid its first dividend after he underpinned Sussex’s 60-run victory, their first of the season and only their second in a List A game since August 2014.
He said: “One of the main reasons why I came here was to develop my own game in different conditions. I am used to hard, bouncy and quick wickets but here, especially at the start of the season, there is a little bit more in it for the bowlers and the pitches tend to be quite slow.
“I want to make those technical adjustments to my game and get runs consistently. It takes time to adjust so to get my first decent score under my belt felt important.”
The irony of facing so many familiar faces thousands of miles from home was not lost on van Zyl. “It was nice to see the other guys here as well. For me, not seeing my family for six months is difficult so is nice to see some familiar faces, even though your first thought is that you want to beat them!”
Sussex’s victory has given them confidence ahead of Friday’s game against Kent at Canterbury as they look for a victory which would keep their hopes of qualifying from the ultra-competitive South Group.
“It has been a difficult start for us so it was a big win,” said van Zyl. “For me personally it was nice to get my first decent score and more importantly that the team got the season up and running.
“We are desperate to do well and perhaps we are putting too much pressure on ourselves but let’s hope we can build on Tuesday’s win.
“If we keep the good habits we showed against Glamorgan and in some of the game against Somerset there’s no reason why we can’t go on a winning streak and build some momentum.
“We’re going into Friday’s game feeling good. Hopefully it’s starting to click for us and we can come out on top and then go into Sunday’s match against Surrey full of confidence.”
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