‘You only ever get one chance to make a debut hundred and I blew that opportunity’, says Alex Doolan

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“I am not sure I will ever get over that”

Australia batsman Alex Doolan has admitted that he was extremely disappointed to miss out on scoring his maiden Test century on debut during the first Test against South Africa in Centurion.

Doolan made 89 in the second innings before he was caught behind off the bowling of Jean Paul (JP) Duminy.

“I am not sure I will ever get over that,” Doolan said. “You only ever get one chance to make a debut hundred and I blew that opportunity, I think I will probably get more disappointed as time goes on rather than the other way around. The fact that we were in a really good position made it a little bit easier, and the fact that we had batted really well, Davey and myself, to get us into that position on that second day. That was I guess the silver lining to the cloud but I am still pretty gutted about it.”

While Doolan conceded that he was being hard on himself, he added that it was the only way to get better and avoid making the same mistakes again.

“I’ve certainly been a lot tougher on myself,” he said. “In the past there has been a perception of me that I do get to 30 and get out. I was aware of that. It was something that bugged me a lot, so I’ve been a lot harder on myself in making sure that those [perceptions disappear].

“I got 27 in the first innings and got out and I was pretty ropeable. I’m just trying to make sure the job’s not done when you get to 20 or 30, then try and push on and make a hundred every time you bat, rather than just getting lucky once or twice.”

Doolan has been dreaming of representing Australia in Test cricket for a long time, but he recalled the conversation he had with former Australia opener Justin Langer about the huge expectations that come with playing cricket at the international level.

A big step up,” Doolan said. “I remember speaking to Justin Langer before I came away and he said the major difference was expectation from shield cricket to Test cricket. I certainly think that’s the case. Yes, the bowling attack was very, very good, it the best I’ve ever faced, but that expectation of needing to perform and make sure that Australia stayed ahead of the game is certainly very tough.

“I tried to use it as motivation, I don’t think you can totally disregard it because it is always going to be there whether you like it or not. I tried to have it feel like the nation was behind me and was striving to do well and put the team into a good position. Having Davey Warner at the other end, who was a very cool calm head, was very helpful.”

While Doolan looked as if he was in complete control against South Africa’s pace trio of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, he admitted that his “heart was going at 100 miles an hour”.

“It wasn’t calm from my perspective. The heart was going at 100 miles an hour,” he said. “I was very, very pleased to get through that, and to push on and have a really good partnership was Davey was sensational, it’s something I’ll always remember.

“That whole innings was a confidence booster for me. I can’t put my finger on any certain point where I felt comfortable at all. If it wasn’t Dale Steyn, then it was Morne Morkel bowling at you or Vernon Philander, these guys are relentless. It’s probably the most uncomfortable I’ve felt in an innings consistently because there was just no let-up.

“I certainly don’t feel like I’ve got a lot of time to play quick bowling. It’s pretty simple for me. I try to stay still and watch the ball as hard as possible. The least amount of movement means the least number of things can go wrong. I basically try and stay nice and still, and watch the ball as much as I can.”

When asked about the outstanding catches he took at short leg to dismiss South Africa captain Graeme Smith and Duminy, Doolan said: “It can be a little bit frightening and intimidating for me, standing at bat-pad. I’m not sure how the batsmen are feeling, but it really is something else, watching the ball go past at that speed. I can’t hear their breathing or them muttering to themselves, but I can certainly put myself in their shoes and imagine what they’d be thinking. It’s probably not pleasant thoughts.”

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