CAPE TOWN – There is a popular meme on social media where it shows a guy adoringly admiring a girl with the caption “I want someone to look at me the way he looks at her”. That was Bjorn Fortuin on Sunday evening after the Paarl Rocks opened their Mzansi Super League account.
Fortuin was, of course, not gazing at a girl. Instead, his admiration was purely for his captain Faf du Plessis, after the skipper guided him to a four-wicket haul that earned the 24-year-old the Man of the Match award.
“Faf standing next to me helped a lot. Having that experience does help. He picks up things that other guys don’t necessarily pick up. Technical things that other guys don’t necessarily pick up. It helps when you are playing with a guy who has played all around the world in different conditions,” Fortuin gushingly told the media at Boland Park.
The left-arm spinner has been a promising talent ever since he left the Boland region straight after school to pursue a career on the Highveld, where he plays for the Lions. But being back in his hometown for the MSL T20 has placed a great deal of pressure on his slight shoulders, especially with the Rocks playing all their games in-front of packed houses at Boland Park.
Fortuin admitted “the occasion got the better of us” in the first couple of matches the Rocks lost, but once again the entire mood of the team changed once Du Plessis arrived from national duty last week. Instead of being over-awed, especially with the derby looming and a sold out crowd expected, Du Plessis managed to fill his players with the belief that they could perform on the big stage and that they needed to embrace the challenge instead of being fearful.
“The first couple of games wasn’t too great for me personally. I would have liked to have had a couple of more sticks coming into this game. We trained well this week. We felt in good shape coming into this game,” Fortuin explained.
“I think we were a lot clearer with our plans. I think we were a bit rushed in our first two games. Maybe the occasion got the better of us. Faf brings a lot of composure to our team. Having him around us brings the best out of us.”
“We are expecting similar conditions on the coast. Slow and low conditions. I think this past week’s preparation and the game has played in our favour. We feel that we have honed our skills, especially staying on the coast. I feel we are in a good space collectively,” Fortuin said. @ZaahierAdams