Proteas prodigy, Mangaliso Mosehle: “I’ve got Mark 8:34-36 engraved on my calf”

This week, we caught up with Proteas Wicket-keeper, Mangaliso Mosehle about breaking into the South Africa first team and why cricketers need to be more vocal about their faith in Jesus.

Where does your love for the game of cricket come from?

I would always sit with my uncle growing up and we’d watch cricket for the whole day. The first time I played was because we used to get free biscuits, that’s actually why I went and then grew into the game from then on.

At what point did you think, I could make it as a pro here?

It was strange how everything worked out, I was in grade eleven where I went to a national camp and at that time I was just trying to get my grades and go to university. I then played in the U19 World Cup in 2008 against India, but I didn’t play much until a year later against England. I did quite well and was South Africa U19 player of the year, at that time the Titans were looking for a wicketkeeper and so after that series I got given a contract and became a professional cricketer.

You’re playing your cricket with the Highveld Lions, Talented bunch, learning plenty?

It was a tough move for me to make, to leave the Titans and to come here. I had been with the Titans for over seven years but I just wanted to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself. So I went to the Lions and it has been a good season, it’s a great, young group of guys where I think the average age is twenty-six. It’s been brilliant, there are a lot of talented guys all keen to work and I am just excited to see where we will be in two or three years time. We will be a stronger unit and we have such a good culture on and off the field, a great team environment.

Do you remember where you were, when you first got your South Africa call up to the U19s?

We were playing in the national cricket week, I had done well, made SA Colts and was happy with that. So I was surprised that when they named the World Cup squad, I had actually made the side. I was like, how did that happen? It was amazing, I remember speaking to my mentor and he told me that he would take me to the World Cup. I thought he was joking because there were like forty other players better than me but obviously, I was really grateful for that!

This is an exciting time for you, breaking into the SA first team squad, sum up the experience of playing against Sri Lanka?

It was amazing, I had known two weeks before because the selectors phoned me, saying that I would be involved and would play the T20s. Reality kicked in in training leading up to the series and I was nervous. I met with my mentor because he was actually commentating the game and he told me that I have an opportunity, don’t mess it up. He is such a great guy and he just wanted to wish me well, he kept me calm and he is someone that I hold dear to my heart. I met him when I was eleven when he came to speak to us and told me that I would play for South Africa.

You’re making headway in T20, is the aim still to go longer, test cricket the dream?

Yes definitely, I would love to play test cricket, there is nothing more rewarding than winning a four-day game, on the last day after tea. So I can imagine that feeling when you play test cricket and it is something that I would like to experience. It’s always been my dream but obviously I have a lot of work to do in four-day cricket which I am excited about. I have seen some growth in my longer game but I am excited for what is going to come. The thing for me, at the moment, is just to continue to work on my game and prepare well, train well. I need to give myself the best opportunity to perform well on the day and control what I can. That’s the most important thing.

Who is the best player that you’ve ever played against, why?

Quinton De Kock played for the Titans last year, I batted with him a couple of times and he is something special. I played with AB De Villiers who is also something special. I think those two, by far, are the best players that I have played with or against. I just remember Quinton making his debut for the Lions when he was eighteen or so and he got seventy-six so easily against Morne Morkel and Paul Harris. He just walked in and got seventy, he is just up there. I remember watching him in the nets and he is just unbelievable.

Do you lean on guys like that for advice, do the senior guys help you out?

Yes I have spent some good time with Quinton after the game, I just remember that he sent me a very nice message saying that one day he would like to see me winning the Champions Trophy with South Africa or the World Cup. The guys are quite open, I have chatted quite a bit with JP Duminy, I have always enjoyed spending time with him. He gave me a call in New Zealand and we had a long chat. He is always someone that I can get along with.

How did you come to know God for yourself?

In 2012, 12th of May I was invited to a friend’s church to come and have a look and just see whether you like it. I went one Sunday, I always had gone to church but had never heard of an altar call. The pastor called an alter call which is inviting people to respond to the message and I had a weird feeling, my heart was beating fast. I guessed that the message was for me and that’s how I first came to follow Christ.

How difficult is it, being a Christian in elite sport?

It’s very tough to be quite honest, I won’t lie to you. When I was at Titans I built relationships with some of the guys and we shared stuff but being in a new team, away from home, not being able to always get to church, it becomes tough in that regard. My pastor says to me that God understands that you are a professional athlete and you need to make use of what you have got. God has placed me where I am and I just have to do what I can. We need people and to be accountable because it is easy to get lost, but as scripture says ‘God’s grace is sufficient’.

How do you use the platform that God is giving you to point people to him?

For me, I remember a recent interview where they were asking me about what the selectors are saying, with me not going to play in New Zealand, how am I going to perform? And my answer to that was that the most important thing is serving my team, serving the Lions and serving my team mates. I just want to make sure that I am there for whenever they need me, I want to reach out to people and serve others, making sure that I care for them.

Do you have a particular bible verse that encourages you?

I’ve got Mark 8:34-36 engraved on my calf. My tattoo looks like a newspaper article, nice and casual. I might quote it wrong but it says that if you lose your life for the sake of the cross then you will gain it, but what profits a man that gains the whole world but forfeits his soul. That is the scripture that has been in my heart ever since I was born again, I actually don’t know why but it has always been there.

Do you talk about your faith with in the game, team mates?

Yes we have got a group with JP, Faf and some of the guys where we just share scriptures. We chat about those things but then obviously not everyone is open to talk about faith. It’s about building relationship first with those guys.

Do you think cricketers need to be more vocal about their faith?

Yes definitely, as I said being a Christian out in the world is tough because the perception that a lot of people have is that Christians are hypocrites. So you will find that people are scared of being bold because of how they will be perceived and how they will be judged. Not a lot of people are bold enough and people are concerned of what people will think, Faf and JP, just the way that they speak about their faith and the way that it has changed their lives, makes them great examples. They are great people to look up to.

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