When South Africa took on Pakistan in the Twenty20 international series earlier this month, many people in Arbroath and elsewhere in Scottish cricketing circles were keeping a close eye on the action unfolding on television.
That is because – although the top level men’s matches were being played over 8,000 miles away in Johannesburg and Gauteng – all-rounder Wihan Lubbe was set to make his debut for South Africa.
In 2019, Lubbe was the professional with Arbroath United Cricket Club and he made his mark both on and off the field at Lochlands.
“Wihan had a huge impact, not only on myself and the other players, but on everyone at the club,” Arbroath’s 2019 first XI skipper Marc Petrie said.
“He was a brilliant player, without doubt on of the best pros we’ve had and one of the best batsmen I’ve seen in the Eastern Premier Division for a long time.
“More importantly than that though, he was an even better guy which at a club like ours with a growing youth set-up and a family feel around it was very much appreciated.
“We were absolutely delighted to hear the news of Wihan’s call-up to the South African squad and it is well deserved. His T20 form has been excellent and we are excited to hopefully see him in action for the national team.”
So, the good people at Lochlands loved having Lubbe around two summers ago – and the feeling was certainly reciprocated.
“I had an absolutely brilliant time when I was over in Arbroath,” Lubbe states.
“Whenever you go abroad to play you want to feel part of a wider community over and above just the 10 other guys you are in a team with and Arbroath as a club certainly provided that.
“From the moment I arrived in Scotland people from the club were always in touch making sure I was settling in and when you scored runs or took wickets during matches you knew how much it meant to people, especially when we played home games in front of good crowds at Lochlands.
“As a coach I also felt I developed during my time at Arbroath because the kids in the youth section were so eager to learn as well as having fun.
“Arbroath is a community club which needs to have a steady stream of young players from the local area coming through into the senior first team and from the raw talent I saw when I was involved there should be no problem on that front.
“I would have been back and had another stint with the club by now if it had not been for the pandemic and I hope to visit again when I am able to and have the time.”
For now Lubbe’s immediate energy is focused on international duty and after receiving his first ever South Africa call-up at the age of 28 he wants to make the most of it.
“There have been times in my career when I maybe thought an international chance had passed me by, but now it is here I am going to grab it,” the left handed batsman who bowls right hand off spin explains.
“T20 cricket has moved on a lot in the last few years and I like to think my ability to adapt to different game scenarios and play my part with bat and ball and in the field has got me to this point.
“There have been a lot of changes in South African cricket in the last couple of years, but things are building up positively again and I will be so proud if I am selected for a matchday XI over the next few days.”