A career in sports is laced with uncertainty and fickleness, with the possibility of being dropped and lost forever in sporting oblivion a constant fear. Every great sportsman has had their time in the doldrums, but it was how they have bounced back from professional disappointments that has defined their journeys. For South African and Kings XI Punjab seamer Hardus Viljoen, the path to success was no different after initially being dropped out of the squad in his early cricketing days.

“I lost my cricket contract when I was 21 years old. At that stage, it was quite a big blow because financially it affects you. Although it wasn’t a lot of money, you knew you were getting something for food and stuff,” said Hardus Viljoen speaking about his Titans provincial contract, in an exclusive interview with kxip.in.

That setback though did not deter Viljoen, as he began training even harder than before, while also getting back to playing rugby- a sport he was equalling good at during his college days. On the cricketing front, he was guided by former South African fast bowler Fanie de Villiers whose advice helped him improve on his pace bowling while enlightening Viljoen more about the gentleman’s game. The efforts paid off as Viljoen managed to get back his contract with a slice of luck, and this time with a greater monetary incentive as well.

“Dale Steyn (who also represented the Titans) got injured four weeks into the season, so I got the called in as a replacement. The same guy who had told me a few weeks earlier that I didn’t have a contract extension anymore gave me a new deal that was three or four times greater than what it was before. That’s why my cricketing journey really kicked off,” explained Viljoen with a beaming smile of pride.

The speedster spent the next two seasons playing for the Titans, before switching over to the Highveld Lions. He has played 92 List A games, having picked a commendable 127 wickets with best figures of 6/19. His impressive performances got himself patrons in the VIVO Indian Premier League, with Kings XI Punjab shelling out the cash to nab the pacer.

From a stint of potential unemployment back in the day when he started playing the sport, Hardus Viljoen has come a long way in his cricketing career. With a few more good years of cricket left in the tank, one can expect the seamer to light up the IPL in subsequent years with his aggressive bowling performances.