Bangalore: Johan Botha started his Test and One-Day International careers in 2005-06, but after just five Tests, has become a short format specialist for South Africa. Along the way, his bowling action has been questioned and his on-field conduct criticised. Speaking to Wisden India, Botha said he hasn't given up hope of playing Test cricket again, but wants to continue enjoying any form of the game he gets to play for the moment.
You've been described variously as fiercely competitive, a nasty piece of work and much else. Do these tags sum up the man?
(Laughs) I think it's only occasionally that I have crossed the line. When you get on the field, you need to do everything you can to try and win for your team. It's just being competitive. No, I am not nasty at all.
The cut-throat competitor - is that the character trait South African cricket has missed over the years?
I don't know. I think the youngsters who are coming in have a bit more of it than the earlier lot. The youngsters today want to do everything for the Proteas to win. That's a good thing. I have been part of the national team for a few years now and I have done everything in that time to make South Africa win. So maybe the youngsters can pitch in and take South Africa to the top of the cricket world.
Do you think you have been branded a limited-overs specialist a bit more than you would have liked?
Not really. I have really enjoyed Twenty20 and one-dayers. That's what I do more of now, and all through my career I have enjoyed it. I do like batting in four-dayers or five-dayers, but they need me for bowling there. Let's see how it goes from here on. I hope to play a couple more Tests. But for now, I am really enjoying the limited-overs formats.
Even when you arrived on the scene, you were talked of as a future South African captain. Do you think captaincy potential can be spotted that early?
I have captained a few teams over the years. Age-group teams, the Under-23 team and such... So I had done it before. I did it for South Africa later when Graeme Smith was injured. These things just happen. The guys think you can do the job and you go ahead and do it. When I captained South Africa, it was a great team to lead, the guys did well and that makes the captain look good. It wasn't so much what I did. But yes, it's something I do enjoy. I also think it helps my game. If it comes up again in the future, I would love to do it.
With Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, you had Shane Warne first and then Rahul Dravid as your captains. Is your role in the team something like that of a vice-captain?
It is, and it's interesting that you put it like that. With Warney... he has years of experience and a great cricket mind. The same's the case with Rahul and it's just great to play with him. I can learn so much from them and every once in a while, I can give them my inputs. I try to do what I can. No one knows everything in cricket. It doesn't matter who you are, everyone can contribute something useful. Whether it is young Ashok Menaria or Ajinkya Rahane - they can come up with something good for the team once in a way. At Royals, we encourage young guys to give their inputs and sometimes they say things that the senior guys can think about.
You have been called for chucking. In fact, you are part of a fairly elite club. What is the problem? Do you think there's a lack of coordination among the authorities?
It's not really for me to say, but I do know that it's quite an interesting process (laughs). Firstly, it's not the bend in the arm but the straightening of the arm that is the problem. And that is probably something a lot of people don't understand. I think people see the bend and say 'That's it, he's throwing'. There are a lot of things that go into it. And the actual bowling test is quite a procedure. The ICC has its rules and I'm sure they will continue to improve them. I think the ultimate solution will be if they can have an on-field measurement, but that's very difficult with the clothing and the different camera angles. For now, this is how things are going to be, and as long as they are consistent, I think everyone's happy.
You said you want to play a few more Tests. For now, your career is at the crossroads. Where do things go over the next couple of years?
I will be playing for South Africa till the World T20, and then go to Australia and play for the Redbacks and the Adelaide Strikers for the next two years. It's an exciting move to play in Australia. There will be a bit of rest. But I don't want to be sitting at home and thinking one day 'Oh, I should have done more'. The family will be moving to Adelaide for the next two to three years, let's see how it goes. Hopefully, it will be a good move.