Finally, South Africa have their KP.
No, not the opinionated one with funky hairstyles but someone with the same two initials. Keegan Petersen is also a batter, a self-confessed bringer of "banter, on and off the field" and is set to make his debut on Thursday against West Indies as South Africa play their first series of another new era. He'll bat in the top five, wants to score runs and rib both his team-mates and the opposition in the future.
"I like to believe I am an energetic, positive-energy type of person," Petersen said, just before the team departed for the Caribbean. "I don't take things seriously, in a good way. I find a joke in everything and I lighten the mood so hopefully, it rubs off in the right way. And I hope I bring runs."
So will South Africa, after a lean period in which the batters have collectively produced only three centuries in their last eight Tests, crossing 300 just twice in 15 innings. Their problems range from lack of confidence - especially against spin - to an inability to convert starts or build partnerships, but Petersen could be crucial in ensuring that changes.
While his presence won't bring experience in international caps like line-ups of old, his nine years in the first-class game includes an accumulation of knowledge of a range of conditions that South Africa have historically struggled on. Petersen made his name on the slow pitches in Paarl before moving to the flat decks of Bloemfontein and ultimately the more challenging spinning surfaces in Durban, which he believes are the ultimate preparation for the Caribbean. "Kingsmead has prepared me for any slow or turning wicket because that's all we get in Durban," he said. "It almost gave me the worst conditions so whatever I get [on this tour], I'll be prepared for."
"I've been nervous for a while now. It gives me goosebumps thinking about it. I know I will have big boots to fill. Anyone would be nervous. This is what we dream of as kids and eventually when the dream becomes a reality, it gives your system a bit of a shock" Keegan Petersen
His domestic coach, Imraan Khan, agrees. "He is a very determined, smart player who knows his game well. And he's got a good all-round game," Khan told ESPNcricinfo. "He is quite a short guy, so he plays square a lot of the time and he has a good game against spin. That's one of the reasons he came to Durban - to expand his game against spin. He has good footwork, forward and back, and has really developed his sweep shot."
Petersen announced himself at the Dolphins last season with a score of 173 in his first appearance for his new team after three summers with the Knights.
It was with the Knight, in the 2018-19 season, that he had first caught the eye of the national selectors. That year, he was the leading run-scorer in the first-class competition with 923 runs at an average of 61.53. Those numbers earned him a call-up to the South African squad for the 2019-20 season - Mark Boucher's first in charge - but Petersen could not force his way into the XI ahead of Rassie van der Dussen and Zubayr Hamza. Instead, he was mentored by Jacques Kallis, who was working as South Africa's batting consultant in that period. "He enjoyed being able to absorb information from someone like Kallis," Khan said.
Since then, his numbers have dipped slightly but he remains among the top performers on the domestic scene. In the 2020-21 season, Petersen finished in the top ten first-class run-scorers and averaged 44. He might have played in the festive Tests against Sri Lanka but missed the series for health reasons. He then travelled to Pakistan but again couldn't get a game. "That bubble was extremely difficult because we were stuck in a hotel on one floor. We couldn't go anywhere, we couldn't do anything," he said. "I hope the Caribbean will be different."
It already is. South Africa are staying at the Harbour Club and have access to a golf course and a beach, so any sense of claustrophobia has been mitigated. And Petersen is all but assured he will get the chance to play after new captain Dean Elgar singled him out as the likely replacement for the retired Faf du Plessis before the team's departure. He also knows there are going to be a lot of expectation from him.
"I've been nervous for a while now," Petersen said. "It gives me goosebumps thinking about it. I know I will have big boots to fill. Anyone would be nervous. This is what we dream of as kids and eventually when the dream becomes a reality, it gives your system a bit of a shock. I've been around, so for me to get a go in the sides means a lot because I know where I've come from and I know the journey has been tough and long. This is what we work for."