’Daddy, let’s just go to the nets ...’ Emotional day for the Petersens as Keegan makes Proteas debut

’Daddy, let’s just go to the nets …’ Emotional day for the Petersens as Keegan makes Proteas debut

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JOHANNESBURG – Dirk Petersen and his family arranged to gather around the TV set on Thursday, and watch his son Keegan fulfill a lifelong dream.

“It was very, very emotional,” the elder Petersen said. “All day, I’ve just wanted to cry.”

Petersen senior, a teacher at New Orleans Senior Secondary in Paarl, admitted that concentrating on work on Thursday proved difficult. “There were times I was writing on the board and I could feel the tears coming, but I didn’t want the kids to see …”

He may have held back the tears while at work, but there was no chance of that self-control remaining once his son took to the field.

“I was talking to Keegan’s wife, Kailynne, this morning, and all she said was; ‘ja, daar gat trane wees neh.’ (there will be tears), and she’s right. This is very emotional for all of us. We are a very close-knit family.”

ALSO READ: What has Keegan Petersen got to lose ahead of likely Test debut

Even the country’s problems with electricity aren’t going to be an obstacle. “I don’t care, if we go off at six o’ clock, we’ll go and find somewhere to watch.”

Petersen senior’s cricket career, saw him share the field as part of the Western Province B team in the late 1980s and early 90s with the likes of Shukri Conrad (the current SA under-19 coach) and he also played for Paarl Cricket Club, sharing the dressing room there with Adrian Kuiper and Marais Erasmus, currently one of the game’s top umpires.

Petersen was also a very good rugby player, who was an elusive runner with an eye for a gap from the fullback position. He toured Italy with the South African Tertiary Institutions Sports Union (SATISU), which was captained by former Western Province and Springbok loose forward Andrew Aitken.

“I never wanted to go to trials with Keegan, because I didn’t want other people whispering about me being his father.”

“Keegan never played in the A team, from his under-11 days, it was only when he made the under-19 that he was in an A side.”

His son made 44 that Sunday, and his professional journey would extend well beyond the picturesque and close-knit community in Paarl.

“It was all about (the lack of) game time at the Cobras. So he wanted to leave, and he played for the Knights (in Bloemfontein). Then the Dolphins came with an offer, which he took.”

“He worked very hard, with every disappointment he had as a boy, he’d just come to me and go ‘daddy let’s go to the nets.’”

He’s been in the Proteas squad since, but other than a couple of stints in the field, he hadn’t officially started a match, something that was testing his patience, his father admits.

“We knew the chance would come, we were not in a hurry, we told him to be patient. I told him, ‘your time will come boeta.’”

Before leaving for the Caribbean, Keegan, admitted to nerves, knowing that he was the front-runner to fill the spot left by Faf du Plessis’s retirement from the Test format.

“I’ve been nervous for a while now and it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. I know I will have big boots to fill.”

That nervous excitement was shared by his parents at their home on Thursday. “It is very emotional. He’s come such a long way, this a very big day for all of us,” said Dirk Petersen.

@shockerhess



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