Feature interview with Kent batsman Martin van Jaarsveld

Friday 4th December 2009

Over the last few seasons, Martin van Jaarsveld has become an integral part of the Kent top-order. The 35 year-old is vice captain and regularly tops one thousand runs for the season. He joined Kent as a Kolpak player in 2005 and finished the 2008 season as the PCA Player of the Year.

In a revealing interview, Martin (MVJ) lifts the lid on the man behind the person and gives a great insight to the Kent website (KW) on life after cricket and his hopes for the 2010 season.

Martin, good to see you still here in the UK. Aren“t you usually back home at this time playing in your native South Africa?

In the past, I have gone back and played six months of cricket in South Africa but things are slightly different this year for me. Having signed the new three-year deal with Kent, I have enjoyed a bit of time off with the family. We have just had a second daughter and some time off from the game has allowed to me rest both mentally and physically.

So why the change this year?

I guess it was more of a family decision in the end although I“m not getting any younger so it was a logical decision. Going back to South Africa and playing for 12 months of the year took a lot out of me. This year I think I“ve made the right decision – take a couple of months off as it will put me in good stead for next season.

Have you thought about your future plans?

I haven“t really thought about life after cricket because I still have lots of time to consider my future. I“m very happy in Kent so we may settle here. My wife, Jill, is English and I enjoy the lifestyle over here. I am going to do my level three and four coaching badges and see where it takes me. It would be good to get a coaching job over here. If that doesn“t happen then we will probably go back to South Africa but the future is still undecided at the moment.

Do you have options on the table?

Yes, I do. As mentioned, it would be nice to stay here but it all depends on employment after cricket. I have a couple of opportunities in South Africa. My family owns a petrol garage so I could get involved in business but cricket coaching would be my preference. I want my children to grow up and go to school here in the UK so I have a good few years to decide on things.

Is it difficult, having family here and in South Africa?

Yes, I guess it is. My two daughters will both have British passports but the trouble with having two sets of grandparents makes it a real tough decision. We have made lots of good friends here in Kent and we enjoy the way of life but I“m the main provider so my career after cricket will ultimately decide what we do.

Do you find it harder as time goes on?

I guess it does get a bit harder as the years progress. Physically it takes its toll on the body. I no longer wake up and feel 100% every morning but I still feel blessed. I“m in good nick and my fitness and strength levels are very good. All the time this is the case, I don“t see why I shouldn“t keep scoring the runs. I have lots of experience now and I guess that makes it easier.

You signed a new three-year contract in 2009 and enjoyed another good season. Did you feel in good nick throughout the year?

I think so. I“m a massive feel player. If I“m in a good place then I genuinely feel that I will score runs. When I don“t do my homework, that is when I generally don“t perform. The standard of cricket is constantly improving so it is up to us players to keep working hard and preparing ourselves correctly – both mentally and physically. I actually felt I had a better season last year, than in 2008, especially consistency wise, but I“m just happy spending time out in the middle.

You are staying here in the UK over Christmas. When are you planning to go back to South Africa?

With the new baby, I“ve decided to scale down my cricket this winter. I“ll only play a bit of club cricket back home, maybe three or four games. In February, I“ll go down to the coast with the in-laws and that will leave me about four weeks to sharpen my skills in Pretoria before reporting back here on March 18. I will play for a club side called Adelaars back in South Africa. They have some good players; many from the Titans but the selection tends to vary depending on availability of the better players.

In the absence of Rob Key last season you captained Kent. How enjoyable do you find it, skippering the side?

Leading any county or franchise is a massive honour but it“s especially pleasing taking to the field as Kent captain. When you take into account the history of the club, it gives me plenty of pride. I find it a real honour.

Is it a bigger challenge, leading the side?

Yes and no. It obviously helps when you go into a side with established cricketers around. I“m also fortunate that we have some wonderful coaching staff around us so you just fall straight into the run of things.

You seem to really enjoy it here. What makes it so special?

We are a great club and I“ve had a wonderful time throughout my Kent career. It started well with the two hundreds and has progressed from there. When I first arrived here in the UK, I think people were unsure about Kolpak players and some felt against the so called ‘Johnny foreigners“ but things have got much better and I now feel a real part of the family here at Kent. Whether I“m playing for Kent, the Titans or my club side, I want to give 100% and to do my very best.

Finally, how do you see things going in 2010 for Kent?

Well Fordie (Graham Ford) has laid the foundations for us to be a really competitive team. He has put a strong squad together. We need one or two new additions but the group is talented and full of quality. In the short time I“ve worked with Farbs (Paul Farbrace), I“ve found him to be a good coach. He obviously has his own ideas and is looking to create an environment where blokes can perform. I“m genuinely excited about the next couple of years because I think we can win some trophies.

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