JOHANNESBURG – There weren’t any tears rolling down Farhaan Behardien’s cheeks last Sunday as he sat in the home dressing room at SuperSport Park for the last time.
The tears had rolled freely a few weeks earlier – on Wednesday, January 22, to be precise when he’d finished his last four-day game for the Titans, a 10-wicket victory against the Lions. “Everyone that knows me, felt I was quite quiet last Sunday, from the morning, until it was done,” said Behardien.
“Only because there was the realisation that it was coming to an end. There was a lot of emotion floating around. But there was more in January after the last rounds of matches in the four-day competition….I shed a few tears and I remember taking off my ‘whites’ with the Titans emblem on the shirt thinking “sjoe, that’s all come to an end,” and it was emotional, it just felt like it came to an end pretty quickly.”
Behardien has been part of the Titans for 14 years. He has been intrinsic to the success that franchise has enjoyed, as it has moved out of the shadows of the historically more powerful provincial sides based in Johannesburg and Cape Town. In his time at the franchise, the teams he was a part of won 16 trophies. “I don’t know if any domestic player around the world has achieved much more than that.”
NEWS: Fudgie ends illustrious Titans Career.
— The Titans (@Titans_Cricket) January 31, 2020
Behardien’s a tough cookie. He took the disappointment of not securing a contract at Western Province and moved to a region with a completely different culture and thrived. He came under the tutelage of Richard Pybus initially – “one of the best cricketing minds I ever worked with,” – and established himself in a Titans team where some prodigious young talent was emerging.
“Heino Kuhn,a young Faf du Plessis, Jacques Rudolph, Dale Steyn, all those guys and Imran Tahir was also starting out for us then. We had all the players,” said Behardien. The Titans won the then SuperSport Series in his first full season in 2006/07.
When Behardien assesses the standard of South African domestic cricket and how it’s changed in his time as a player, he points to the number of experienced, rugged old pros in the system, something which right now is lacking. “It impacts on the quality of the local game, which right now, maybe isn’t that good, but it changes. In 2006, the standard was amazing back then, then it dropped, then it got better then it dropped…so it’s been up and down,” he explained.
“The reason I think that standards drop, is that there are so many younger guys just starting their careers, so there will be a period where the standard drops until those guys play for a few years, gain experience, where they’re not worrying about their contracts or any other insecurity in their lives.”
“I think that is where we are right now. There are a lot of guys who’ve come to the end (of the playing careers locally). But once a Zubayr Hamza, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, Keegan Petersen, Dom Hendricks, Ryan Rickelton, Janneman Malan, have played for a few years the standard will be strong again.”
INNINGS: Elgar (74*) and Behardien (11*) conclude the innings on 275-4 after 39 overs, fine work with the willow by the Sky Blues.
— The Titans (@Titans_Cricket) February 7, 2020
Behardien, 36, played 97 matches for South Africa (59 ODIs and 38 T20 Internationals) and was a part of one 50-over World Cup squad and three T20 World Cup groups. He never really won over the South African public and generally copped some nasty criticism.
“I dealt with criticism poorly in the beginning,” he said. He stopped reading newspapers, magazines and going on-line, to see what people were saying regardless of whether his performances were good or bad. “How I learned to deal with it was, I knew when I did badly, especially on the international stage.
I worked my arse off to correct it, and I didn’t need anyone else telling me or to read it. Reading anything that got me down, when I was in the limelight wasn’t worth it and once I let go of that, I enjoyed myself a little bit more.”
At domestic level, it was a different game. For the Titans, Behardien developed an unerring ability to win games with the bat, whether giving his side’s innings a spurt at the end if they batted first, or dragging them across the line when they chased.
“I’ve copped a lot of abuse, batting in the middle order trying to win games, trying to save games, if you don’t come off it’s a tough place to be, if you win it’s great, if you lose…the scales are so big.”
Depending on how much more of an impact the Covid-19 pandemic makes on worldwide travel Behardien hopes to start the first of his two year stint with English county Durham in the next few months. Thereafter, he wouldn’t mind involving himself in South African cricket again.
“I would love to stay in the game, I feel I have a lot to offer. I’ve had 14 years, and in that time I’ve failed a lot as well – you can’t always be successful. Maybe I play for a differen team, or I could coach or be involved in some capacity.
“I think I still have a lot to offer. I’m still fit and strong, I think I can match the younger guys from a physical standpoint. Who knows what will happen.”