The Titans recently took leave of one of their most inspirational players when they held a farewell function for batsman Jacques Rudolph, who has ended his South African career in order to focus on his commitments as captain of Glamorgan.
Rudolph, a compact left-hander whose 49 first-class centuries show his ability perhaps better than his Test average of 35, gave a moving address in which he was often in tears and which showed why he was one of the most popular players on the domestic circuit.
“One can dedicate one’s life to an institution and walk away with only a handshake, so this is a great evening to end a great journey,” Rudolph said. “The agreement is that next October I will be sitting on the grass embankment with my son, who will hopefully be starting to walk, and hear Loslappie [the Titans’ team song] roaring out from the changeroom.”
The 34-year-old tried his hand at international cricket with decent success, scoring six Test centuries and 11 fifties in 48 Tests, as well as averaging 35 in 45 ODIs, but what happened at the very start of his career with the national team, when he was pulled from the team by then UCB president Percy Sonn on the eve of his debut Test, probably did not help the confidence of a 21-year-old as he was back then in Sydney.
“There’s a strong perception that my career was marred by politics, what with the interference in selection in 2001/02, but I’m thankful for that because it gave me resilience and perseverance, it enabled me to overcome any adversity. I have no regrets, it only made me stronger,” Rudolph said with typical magnanimity.
He was indeed able to handle any attack on his day, but he has also made a massive difference off the field at Centurion.
“The stats only tell half the story. He’s one of the nicest okes to work with and there are so many people he’s touched while he’s been here. Junior players come to me and say what an inspiration he’s been. Scoring 20 000 runs is one thing, but he’s also provided a much-needed lift in the changeroom,” Titans CEO Jacques Faul said.
The inspiration continued in his parting words as Rudolph gave some worthy advice to the young cricketers present.
“Arrogance comes before a fall. I remember when I was 21 and I had just scored a double-century for South Africa and I came back to the Titans. Gerald Dros had to call me aside and tell me that I needed to come down a peg or two before I had become arrogant. That was life-changing.
“You won’t succeed if you are arrogant. The All Blacks are a great example, they beat a lot of teams but they are very humble and always spend time with the opposition. Make friends and learn from them, treat people with dignity and respect, South Africa creates a certain environment, but we need to break barriers and reach out.
“You can’t start soon enough to save money because before you know it, your career can be taken away. I learnt too late sadly about financial discipline because life is expensive.
“Teams win championships and not individuals – individuals win you games. And your identity musn’t be linked to how you perform or your abilities. The best batsmen only reach fifty once in every three innings, so you fail a lot more than you succeed in this game. Don’t link your value as a person to how you perform or what people think of you,” Rudolph said.
The applause should ring out for Jacques Rudolph for all the pleasure he gave local cricket fans and the contribution he made to South African cricket.