Peterson is one of those few international cricketers who have been around for more than a decade and have yet appeared only in as few as 47 ODIs and 6 tests, an indication of the preference of the South African selectors over the years. Primarily a left arm spinner who can also bat a bit, Peterson was born in Port Elizabeth, Cape Province at the eastern tip of South Africa. Untrained by any spinning coach, he made his debut playing for the Eastern Province and went on to represent South Africa at the U-19 level.
Peterson was born in a middle class family, and thought he admits that they had everything they needed, it came through real hard work. That facet of his life might have rubbed off on his work ethic for Peterson, though a spin bowler of genuine talent, had to face quite a lot of disappointments in his professional career. Handpicked by Clive Rice to attend the national academy, Peterson made it to the South African squad at the age of 22 in September 2002 against India. Since then, he has been involved in 21 different one day series. That has been the tale of a South African spinner, given the fact that the squad is always brimming with fast bowlers of repute. But he grabbed every opportunity given to him, more so in the ODI format, and more often than not, always made the squad. Joked about for being the most professional 12th man around, he was also clobbered for 28 runs by Brian Lara in an over in a test match, which made it to the record books.
But all that is behind him now. He was selected in the teams for the 2007 and 2011 World cup and surprised one and all by leaving the English top order in a disarray attacking with the new ball on a turning dust-bowl in Chennai in the 2011 event. It was a clever ploy by his skipper Graeme Smith, who wanted to trouble Kevin Pietersen, but the wickets of Bell and Strauss were surely a bonus. He was instrumental in South Africa chasing down India's total in the match at Nagpur where he hit a four and six off Nehra in the final over to seal the victory. Although such exploits would mean a permanent spot in the starting XI, the emergence of Imran Tahir has meant that he will have tough competition to keep his place. Never the one to be fazed by this, he has said that he is willing to work harder on his batting which would be an additional asset to the team. He hopes that his exploits would inspire young South African cricketers to turn towards spin bowling.
Fact: He signed up with Derbyshire as a Kolpak player in 2009 and worked on his bowling while picking up tips watching Graeme Swann bowling in the county matches.
By Siddharth Prabhakar