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Nothing average about Van der Dussen and his incredible numbers in ODIs

20 January 2022 - 10:45
Rassie van der Dussen plays an unorthodox stroke en route to a century for the Proteas in their ODI against India in Paarl on Wednesday.
Rassie van der Dussen plays an unorthodox stroke en route to a century for the Proteas in their ODI against India in Paarl on Wednesday.
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

There is nothing average about the way Rassie van der Dussen has taken to ODI cricket.

Only Australia's Michael Hussey, who also belatedly took to the international stage, batted with more boisterous, effervescent overflow in his first 30 ODIs.

Van der Dussen constructed his best ODI innings in the Proteas' 31-run win over India at Boland Park on Wednesday. His energetic 129 not out off 96 deliveries helped change the pace and pulse of the SA innings just when India's spinners showed signs of casting their spell.

The man of the match strode to the crease at 68/3 in the 18th over. Van der Dussen and captain Temba Bavuma methodically disentangled the home team before accelerating in their match-defining 204-run partnership for the fourth wicket.

Van der Dussen's knock helped lift his average in the ODI arena to an eye watering 73.62. While he acknowledges that individuals in the sport are defined by the numbers, he chooses not to be weighed down by them.

“I don't pay much attention to it,” said Van der Dussen as the sun was still stinging Paarl after the match.

What he invests in more is match awareness.

“You are sometimes aware of it because they show it on TV, or whatever, but I think for me in every innings you are starting on 0 and trying to assess the match situation and what's needed from you.

“I suppose in my ODI career I've been really clear when I go in to bat and know what was needed from me. As for today [Wednesday], I'm glad I could play a match-winning knock in the end.

Going in the middle order, I try to read the situation and play it according to what I think will give us a good score or win the match,” said Van der Dussen.

“Sometimes I appreciate that from the outside it might look like I'm doing something else, but my only motivation going in to bat is always to get the team in a good position or to win the match.

“There is never any other reference from my point of view.”

Being organised, thoughtful and calculated helps when you are trying to dig your team out of a hole.

On Wednesday he had to shift momentum in the Proteas' favour and to achieve that he went to one of his go-to weapons against spin — the sweep.

“Coming in at 68/3 and the wicket taking a bit of turn I knew I had to bring in my sweep early,” said Van der Dussen, who turns 33 next month.

“Generally the wicket here is quite slow and you can't let the spinners settle. It is difficult to go straight down the ground because there is no pace to work with.

“I went to the sweep and a few of them came off and I got off to a bit of a flyer. From there it was about staying with the plan and trying to put pressure on them.”

That was achieved in concert with provincial batting pal Bavuma, who proved the perfect foil to his stroke-playing excesses.

The pair share intimate knowledge of each other's game and were perhaps the ideal partnership for the Proteas in the situation they found themselves in at that time.

“We have grown to know each other's game plans, mannerisms, and strengths and weaknesses,” said Van der Dussen.

“I know certain things he does when he plays well and he knows what I do when I play well. It is about reminding ourselves about that.

“It was hot out there, so when he got to 70 or 80 he started to feel the heat a bit. He reminded me to keep the intensity up, to stay in the game plan and stay disciplined.

“I enjoy batting with him. His running between the wickets I feed off well. I think we complement each other.”

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