After 16 years, Nicky Boje nervous before Mumbai marathon debut

Former South Africa left-arm spinner Nicky Boje, who made his Test debut at the Wankhede Stadium in 2000, is back in the city for his first brush with the Mumbai Marathon on Sunday

Former South Africa left-arm spinner Nicky Boje is nervous, yet excited as he prepares for his first brush with the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon on Sunday.

Former South Africa cricketer Nicky Boje at the Cricket Club of India, Churchgate, yesterday. Pics/Satej Shinde
Former South Africa cricketer Nicky Boje at the Cricket Club of India, Churchgate, yesterday. Pics/Satej Shinde 

The feeling gives him a sense of déjà vu, considering he made his Test debut in this city, 16 years ago, against a Sachin Tendulkar-led Indian team at the Wankhede Stadium on February 24, 2000.

"I was nervous then too and remember very clearly that I didn't have a great first Test (none for 17 off five overs and 14 runs with the bat), but we won it anyway (by four wickets), so it was not a bad start. My second Test was a memorable one though (2-10 & 5-83 as SA beat India by an innings and 71 runs in Bangalore).

Historic series win
That (two-match) series was the first time in 14 years that an overseas team won a Test series in India, so in that sense, it was an unbelievable start to my Test career," Boje told mid-day at the Cricket Club of India yesterday soon after landing in the city. Boje, who played 43 Tests and 115 ODIs for SA between 1995 and 2006, is no stranger to distance-running.

"I do a lot of running as part of my training and have participated in the 2013 Berlin Marathon. I run along with my wife Anel and her niece Erna, who are here too. Running is a hobby, so the marathon is more of a fun event rather than a competitive one for us," said Boje, who clocked an impressive 4 hours, 40 minutes in Berlin.

Nicky Boje
Nicky Boje 

He's pretty well read on the subject too. "I've read quite a few books on distance-running and picked up some tips from there to help improve my technique. Hats off to the effort put in by the globally dominant Kenyan and Ugandan athletes. I was fortunate to see Kenyan Wilson Kipsang set the marathon world record (2:03:23 seconds) in Berlin," said the 42-year-old, for whom age is just a number.

"Running is a habit and once you do it over a period of time, it's not a big deal. A strict watch on nutrition combined with a structured fitness regime helps in preparing for long distance runs," explained Boje, who avoids fried and processed food, red meat and alcohol, opting for fruits, salads, vegetables and lean meats.

That doesn't mean he'll stay away from his favourite Indian food here. "I love my chicken tikka and naan bread. I'm looking forward to having a go at that as I'll be staying over for a couple of days after the race," he said, not forgetting his priority though.

"The weather in Berlin was nice and chilly so I managed a sub-five hour time, but in Mumbai I'm aiming for the 5:10 or 5:20 mark. Let's hope the city is as kind to me at the start of my longer version of running as it was during the beginning of my journey in the longer version of cricket."

'south africa seemed low in confidence during Test series against india'

The India vs South Africa test series was a tough trip – tough for both sides. The ball did turn a little too much and too early (Day one), but that's the type of wickets you get here. When you go to Australia or SA, you get bouncy wickets. But having said that, South Africa seemed to be short on confidence. It was the same during their fist Test against England recently. You can't take anything away from India's spinners, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja though. They are quality spinners.

'Hashim Amla should not have been made captain in the first place'
Hashim Amla's recent resignation as captain of South Africa did not come as a surprise to me because I always felt that he should not have been made captain in the first place. That's because he's such a world-class batsman and guys like him must only be concentrating on their batting and nothing else. He's a nice guy and a great personality and maybe he was made captain due to certain circumstances, but Hashim will flourish only if he is able to solely focus on his batting.

'We must realise that too much money & bookies are a part of cricket'
I've been through a tough phase (he was questioned by Delhi Police in a match-fixing case in 2000), so I can tell you that cricket is going through trying times. All these different T20 competitions mean there's a lot of money in the sport. We must realise that bookies are part of the game. It's up to us cricketers not to get involved and stay away from them. There's a saying that 'a young man with a lot of money is dangerous.' Young cricketers must only focus on their game and nothing else.

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