Leie leaps to new heights

When it comes to escaping the cold that’s gripped most of South Africa, Eddie Leie has the best approach to dealing with the icy mornings and short days. He’s jetting off to the Caribbean.

But the leg-spinner won’t be hitting the beach or sipping cocktails. It’s strictly business as he turns out for the St Lucia Zouks in the Caribbean Premier League T20 competition before he boards a plane and heads to Bangladesh to join South Africa’s T20 squad.

It’s taken a while for the news of his international call-up to sink in admitted the 28-year-old, he was  dealing with the stress of moving house in the week he got the call, but he’s excited for the coming weeks.

“It’s finally sunk in,” Leie said yesterday. “I was actually moving house the week that the announcement was made and I had my mind on a bunch of things that come with it, like my stuff getting damaged and connecting my DSTV,” he joked.

“But it’s sunk in and I’m seriously excited.”

The 28-year-old proved to be a key component in the Highveld Lions bowling attack last season, his selection backed up by the fact that he boasts an economy rate of 5.65 in cricket’s shortest format and was the fourth highest wicket taker in the Ram Slam T20 with 14 scalps but he admitted that the call to join the national squad was an unexpected one.

“To be honest with you, you never expect a national call-up. If you have a few good performances and then start expecting things you open yourself up for disappointment. For me it’s just been about working hard for my franchise,” Leie, who also forms part of the South Africa A limited overs side that tours India next month, said.

“I feel that my game has grown a lot in the last year or so but I didn’t expect it so soon,” he added but was also cautious about staying realistic of his chances of taking to the field in Bangladesh given that Aaron Phangiso, a friend and colleague who Leie has learnt a lot from, is expected to be the first choice spinner.

“I don’t want to be jumping the gun. I’m realistic. I’ve been selected for the tour of Bangladesh and I need to focus on the now and just keep working and learning from the guys in the squad.”

There’s plenty of competition among the spinners in all three formats with the likes of Imran Tahir, Simon Harmer and Phangiso all in the mix but Leie is adamant that he wants to push to be considered for Test, One Day International and T20 cricket alike.

“I want to play all formats but it all depends on hard work. Test cricket is the purest form of the game and everyone dreams of playing for their country at that level. I don’t want to be a one game or one tour wonder,” said Leie.

“A lot of things are happening at once and it’s going to be a great challenge.”

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