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August 21, 2002 | 1850 IST

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Kambli to play in South Africa

Ashish Magotra

Former India batsman Vinod Kambli leaves for South Africa on August 28, to play for Boland Cricket Club, in a bid to reignite his international career.

"My foray into movies is now over and it's time to get back to cricket," said the attacking left-hand Mumbai bat.

Talking about his decision to play in South Africa, Kambli said: "There are many benefits, but prime among them is my fitness. My fitness levels will improve as all the teams have a very strict training regimen, almost similar to that of the South African team. Added to that, the fielding levels are very good too."

He said when he got the offer to play for Boland he asked Sunil Gavaskar and Sir Vivian Richards for their opinion.

"Their advice was simple. They said: 'Go there and get used to the conditions; learn about the bounce, the seam movement. The pace of the wickets is very different from those available in India. The experience will make you a complete cricketer.' "

"You always keep learning in cricket," he added.

The contract with Boland is till January 30, 2003. After that he will be back playing Ranji Trophy cricket for Mumbai.

Kambli is the fastest Indian to reach 1000 runs in Test cricket [in terms of innings played -- 14]. The stylish southpaw, who is on par with the late Sir Don Bradman and Wally Hammond as the only batsmen ever to score double centuries in successive innings, seemed destined for great things, but somewhere along the line something went wrong.

The 1994 series against the West Indies is widely regarded as his Waterloo. Now he wants to prove his critics wrong.

Courtney Walsh bounced him and discovered a chink in his then formidable armour. The word got around and soon bowlers all over the world were bouncing him.

"I worked on my technique. It was only a matter of time before I got back to my best. A bad phase best describes that particular stretch of time.

"Nobody has given me any reasons as to why I haven't been playing in Tests," said Kambli, who still averages 54.20 in Tests.

Surprisingly, he has played only 17. After the series against the West Indies, he only played against New Zealand before being permanently discarded.

"Yes, I may have been a little slow in getting to work on my technique, but by the time I was ready there was so much competition for places in the side.

"I want to play more cricket for the country…One bad series, it was just one bad series."

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