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Proteas’ centurion Sarel Erwee: ‘I was a phone call away from calling it quits’

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Sarel Erwee of SA celebrates his century during day one of the Second Test against New Zealand at Hagley Oval on February 25 2022 in Christchurch.
Sarel Erwee of SA celebrates his century during day one of the Second Test against New Zealand at Hagley Oval on February 25 2022 in Christchurch.
Image: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

After scoring his maiden Test century on the opening day of the second match at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch in New Zealand on Friday, Sarel Erwee revealed he came close to quitting more than two years ago.

Erwee, who made his Proteas debut in the first Test at the age of 32, said he could have called it quits if was not for the support of family and consultations with a sports psychologist.

Erwee was the team's star performer on day one when he sparkled with a calculated knock of 108 off 221 as SA reached stumps sitting on a comfortable position of 238/3.

His opening partner Deal Elgar made 41, Aiden Markram came back to some sort of form with 42 and the Proteas will resume on Saturday with Rassie van der Dussen on 13 and Temba Bavuma on 22.

“About 28 months ago, it did cross my mind and I was probably a phone call away from calling it quits,” said Erwee.

“But I had huge support from my family, my parents picked me up and I saw a sports psychologist. I got through it daily and it was a hard slog to try to be motivated again and give my best after wanting to give up.

“All the years of hard work and hard slog did at semi-professional and franchise level felt pointless and worthless at one stage. Luckily I am very fortunate to have worked with a sports performance psychologist and the support of my parents was incredible. It is basically what motivated me.

“It is a very special day that 24 months ago I probably didn’t think I will be in a position to even be close to a SA Test squad. To sit here today with a Test hundred behind my name is special.

“It is even more special having gone through the hard yards over the years and taking learnings along those years. I know the team comes first and I am very happy we can turn things around after the first Test.”

Erwee said mental health needs to be talked about more as MANY people are suffering from it in sports and in life in general.

“I don’t think we focus on it enough in SA, not just in cricket but all sports. I might be mistaken but from speaking to other sportsmen, it is something lacking not only in sport but general in life.

“As a man it is kind of frowned upon when you show mental weakness or softness. A lot of work needs to be done and I am in that process where I am trying to better my mental wellbeing. It has been part of my life and it will probably be for a long time.”

The moment was made more special by the fact that Erwee's sister, who lives in New Zealand, was at the ground to witness his maiden hundred.

“It was lovely to celebrate and get the hundred in front of a member of the family. My sister lives in New Zealand. She has been through a tough time here and it was nice to give her something to smile about.”


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