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Ken Borland

Rassie backing up Temba as a leader, with the best of them as a batsman & raising the bar all round 0

Posted on February 15, 2022 by Ken

Rassie van der Dussen pulls stylishly at the Wanderers. – Photo by Marcel Sigg

Temba Bavuma has made a tremendous start to his tenure as South Africa’s white-ball captain, and Keshav Maharaj was also excellent when standing in for him, but it is heartening to know that if they are unfortunately unavailable for any reason, there is another calm, deep-thinking leader in the team who could do the job with aplomb.

Rassie van der Dussen has cemented his place in the limited-overs teams in spectacular fashion and his heroics in the recently-completed ODI whitewash of India leave him with 1267 runs in 26 innings in the 50-over format, at the extraordinary average of 74.52.

The second oldest of four sports-mad brothers, Van der Dussen was first touted as leadership material during the horrors of the 2019 World Cup in England. Amidst a chaotic campaign, the Pretoria product impressed with his cool head and clear thinking, as well as the three half-centuries he scored in six innings, finishing the tournament with an average of 62.

That same composure and ability to adapt to any situation was clearly evident during the memorable Test and ODI series wins over India. There were times Van der Dussen had to dig in defiantly; on other occasions he turned the momentum through positive strokeplay and no little skill.

“The Test series was definitely the toughest conditions I’ve ever had to bat in and it was high pressure with the Indian bowlers just never letting you go,” Van der Dussen told Saturday Citizen.

“Every session seemed to be more important than the last, every moment things could swing the other way. It was extremely mentally testing. But being mentally strong is something I pride myself on.

“Under pressure I need to be level-headed and to analyse the situation objectively. Throughout my career I’ve believed that I can manage the chase, absorb the pressure when the opposition is bowling well.

“I pride myself on performing in the big moments and matches. It maybe comes from playing club cricket in Pretoria from a young age, playing against men. There was often verbal abuse and you had to deal with it,” Van der Dussen said in typically stoic fashion.

The 32-year-old currently has the highest average in ODI history of all batsmen who have played at least 20 innings and when one looks at some of the other superstars near the top of that list – Virat Kohli (58.77), Babar Azam (56.92), Michael Bevan (53.58) and AB de Villiers (53.50) – one thing characterises them all. They are all expert players of the situation, whether it called for consolidation or acceleration.

Many other just as talented batsmen ended with inferior records because they would only play in one way, arguing that that was their “natural game”.

“A batsman can be labelled with that – ‘that’s just the way he plays,’ people will say. But it can also be a cop-out,” Van der Dussen said.

“Whenever I bat, I try to change the match and there is always a certain amount of responsibility you have to accept. It’s about reading the match situation and working out what is needed.

“That’s always my thing: to put the team in a good position to win the game. At the Wanderers Test, I knew Dean and I had to be in overnight, the runs did not matter at the end of the third day. But then we were able to start well the next day.”

The way Van der Dussen stayed calm and clear-headed under immense pressure from India was in stark contrast to visiting wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, a great talent who twice got out for ducks at crucial times on tour due to wild forays down the pitch to try and slog the bowler.

Van der Dussen admits he did have a few words with Pant, who ‘caught’ him in the first innings of the Wanderers Test when the ball had clearly bounced, but the phlegmatic Central Gauteng Lions star did raise the bar above petty sledging.

“I like to think I’m a deep thinker and I just asked Pant a few questions, nothing attacking him personally, but I guess they did not sit well with him. I suppose it made him think differently.

“But the Wanderers incident was a massive moment because chasing 280-300 would possibly have been too much for us and he’s a young and exciting player. We did speak about making sure that was a moment India would really regret and capitalising on it,” Van der Dussen said.

It will surprise no-one that someone as pragmatic as Van der Dussen already has a plan for life after cricket and has gone into business with his agent and close friend Chris Cardoso.

“I’m really enjoying delving into the business side and we now have three coffee shops – called Abantu Coffee – in the Centurion area. Our aim is to make good coffee and create as many jobs as we can.

“I really want to scale up my involvement in it and I enjoy being hands-on in the business,” Van der Dussen said.

Something else that the Menlo Park High School and Affies alma mater enjoys immensely, along with wife Lara, is the bush and especially birdwatching.

Even in that hobby, Van der Dussen is trying to make a change for good with his support of the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project, along with Cardoso.

“I go to Mabula about twice a year, Chris owns a unit in Mabula and through our conservation fund African FRDM x Environment we are helping them with the great work they do in trying to secure a good future for these endangered birds.

“We’ve helped them with new tyres and in trying to build suitable nest boxes that are strong enough for these massive birds and their huge beaks.

“I’ve loved the bush from early on because my grandfather had a farm with game and cattle at Springbokvlakte between Modimolle and Marble Hall. Growing up amongst animals I learnt things like tracking.

“Which got me into birdwatching because of the thrill of the chase, you hear the call and you want to track the bird down and see it. For Lara and I, seeing a rare bird gives us the same feeling as seeing a lion or a leopard,” Van der Dussen said.

But for now, dreams of spending more time in the bush have had to take a back seat because Van der Dussen is spotting both the red and the white ball extremely well at the moment.

CSA to raise quotas 0

Posted on May 06, 2016 by Ken


Johannesburg-raised Grant Elliott, the star of New Zealand’s World Cup semi-final victory over South Africa on Tuesday, was a refugee from the quota system and there are fears of a fresh exodus of players after it was revealed Cricket South Africa (CSA) will raise the targets for players of colour and Black African cricketers for next season.

CSA’s plan to increase the number of players of colour required to feature in all franchise cricket to six from next season, including at least three Black Africans, and to make the quota seven players of colour, including four Black Africans, in the semi-professional teams has been slammed by the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) and the franchises, not least of all because they were not consulted before the announcement was made after they had done almost all of their contracting already for next season.

“We’re very unhappy, not with the decision itself because we represent all players and stay out of transformation decisions, but with the way it was done,” Tony Irish, the SACA chief executive, told The Citizen on Tuesday. “Our agreement with CSA requires them to consult with us and the franchises before doing things like that, and they have to do it before the franchise window for contracts starts on January 1.

“But they did this with two weeks left in the three-month window for transfers and 90% of the franchise contracts have been finalised based on the old numbers from last season. It means that players with contracts won’t be playing and the players that are playing won’t have contracts.”

The move, the second increase in the quota in successive seasons, will also have serious consequences for the pipeline of talent in South Africa because it effectively means that each union can only offer regular first-class cricket to 9 white players every season. Talented players on the fringes of their franchise sides like George Linde, Sybrand Engelbrecht, Daryn Smit, Calvin Savage, Duanne Olivier, Quinton Friend, Devon Conway, Sean Jamison, JP de Villiers, Shaun von Berg, Jon-Jon Smuts and David White could find themselves relegated to club cricket.

Players who have piqued the interest of the national selectors like Marchant de Lange, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Corne Dry, Hardus Viljoen and Heino Kuhn could find themselves languishing in semi-professional cricket.

“This is exactly why consultation is so important, but CSA have completely disregarded us despite the agreements being clear. We are considering our options,” Irish said.

CSA spokesman Altaaf Kazi confirmed they had received a letter from SACA and “we are aware of their concerns and they are being addressed by the board”.

Elliott’s winning hand for New Zealand has once again put the spotlight on how much international-calibre talent South Africa loses, making a balanced, well thought-out response to the demands of transformation a necessity.

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