Born in Australia, raised in South Africa by a cricketing great of both those countries Riki Wessels could have chosen to represent either of those countries and follow in his father’s footsteps, however he chose England: the country in which he lives and plies his trade. And has done so for the past twelve years. During this time, representing his country has remained his steadfast dream.
Wessels has now qualified to play for England, which works out really as he tells DEC all about his dreams to play international cricket.
“Back in 2005 I said to play for England was the number one choice – that hasn’t changed 11 years, 11 seasons later: it’s still the same.
“I live here, I play here and I’ve played 95% of my cricket in the UK either for Northants or Notts; I love the guys who are playing for England now too and would love to be a part of that.
If Wessels is to achieve his dream then it will most likely come facing a white ball, where this season especially he has performed brilliantly for Nottinghamshire, amassing over 800 runs in the Natwest T20 Blast and Royal London One Day Cup combined at an average of a touch over 54.
Helping him on his way, has been some of the outstanding partnerships he’s put on with his fellow opening bat Michael Lumb – remember the mammoth 342 stand against Northamptonshire earlier this season? Yep, that was these two.
Wessels was keen to point out how much he enjoyed batting with Lumb and why they work so well together, saying, “We’ve done quite a bit of it now, plus in Australia we got to bat for the
Sixers together as well which is quite nice so we’ve just really kicked on,.
“We understand each other quite well, we know to talk a lot in the first few overs so we know what the bowlers and wicket is doing and think we work really well together now.
This partnership has powered Nottinghamshire to a home quarter final in the Natwest T20 Blast (against Essex on Monday) where Wessels will be looking to land silverware for Notts.
However they will have more than an eye on the Specsavers County Championship table where they lie next to bottom, with Hampshire the bottom side having a game in hand.
This is clearly on Wessels and the rest of his teammates mind’s saying,
“Look, winning the trophy would be fantastic but as a group of players we would take more of a failure from being relegated than anything else, it would hurt us quite considerably, more than winning a trophy would probably make us happy.
“Winning a trophy is nice at the time but then we have to face the reality of playing Division Two cricket for all of next year and that would be a pretty hard pill to swallow.”
This is understandable as Notts are a club who pride themselves on being one of the top clubs in the country and one which employs two of the most respected coaches on the county scene in Peter Moores and England selector Mick Newell.
Coaches who Wessels enjoys working with in different ways, he explained, “They’re quite different really, Pete is very hands on, always helping, Mick sort of steps back a bit and does the quieter role – sort of gives you a quiet word in your ear when you are going well or struggling, as a Director of Cricket should do.
“It’s two different roles from two different characters really.”
Nottinghamshire supporters will be hoping that Wessels can transfer his white ball form into the first-class game as the season comes to a close, to help avoid relegation, as does he,
“It’s been the first year in a while where I’ve struggled with the red ball stuff, but we’ve got a few more weeks of the white ball stuff and then we are into the big championship game against Hampshire, and I’d love to score runs in that game.”
It will be a crunch game against Hampshire and the winners will take a massive step towards avoiding relegation.
Everyone involved at Notts will be hoping that Wessels can help keep Nottinghamshire in Division One next year and bring home the Natwest T20 Blast trophy too. If Wessels can help do this, then maybe as well it will help him to realise his 12 year dream of playing for his country.