Proteas want to put out positive message to cricket-loving public
CAPE TOWN - Rassie van der Dussen has faced all types of balls in his career. Inswingers, outswingers, leg-breaks, googlies and even doosras. For the most part he has negotiated them all rather well.
Yesterday, Van der Dussen, though, was instructed to leave one. It wasn’t quite a straight delivery, but neither was it a ripsnorter. In fact, he had actually played it with a straight bat rather well back in July already.
But now he was told to shoulder arms. It was actually a pity for Van der Dussen probably has the best technique, particularly among the white players, to face up to the Black Lives Matter bouncer. The Proteas media manager wasn’t even going to apply the one per press conference rule. No reviews either. A straight red.
Everything else was fair game though. And it was left to Van der Dussen to explain how it has been left to the Proteas to restore the battered image of Cricket South Africa.
“We are employed to play cricket, and that’s what we’ve been doing and that’s what we’ll continue to do. Saca (the SA Cricketers’ Association) talks on behalf of all the players, but we’re here to play cricket, to perform, to win games for our country,” Van der Dussen said.
“And, by way of doing that, putting a positive message out there to the cricket-loving public. We’ll leave the rest to the suits to sort out. We’re a passionate nation and we want to beat anyone we play against, that’s what it boils down to for us.”
The Proteas have shown previously that they are capable of putting together passionate performances even when everything else around them is blazing. Shaun Pollock’s team displayed great character immediately after the Hansie Cronje match-fixing saga to beat Australia in an emotionally-charged ODI series back in 2000, while Graeme Smith’s team regularly had to contend with boardroom disruptions en-route to their World No 1 Test ranking.
The extra motivation of playing for a greater cause may just offset the fact that the Proteas have not been together since March, unlike England that have played three highly-competitive series during the lockdown period.
“Yes, they’ve played a full summer of cricket and yes they’ve played a bit more than us, it can be an advantage but not necessarily,” Van der Dussen said.
“It’s a good thing we’re starting with the T20 format, which is a format to express yourself and almost catch up to an extent. Just one or two guys in your team can really swing a result.
“Luckily a few of our guys have been at the IPL and had time in the middle. But sport in general can throw you curve balls every day and you’ve got to deal with that.
“Our preparation has been on point considering everything that’s happened, the coaching and the management has been brilliant.”
The 31-year-old is certainly doing everything within his control to ensure that he is in prime form once the first T20 gets underway at Newlands on Friday.
“(Coach) Mark Boucher has been brilliant in communicating where he feels I can be better. At the start of the innings I could have more intensity. I’ve sort of eased my way into my innings before,” Van der Dussen said.
“I’ve tried to get to 20 balls and not worry about my score because I know I can catch up. But having 20 off 20 balls is better than having 10, plus against spin in the middle overs I’ve had one or two technical flaws which I’m working on. Getting 5% better is what my thinking is all about and I’ve worked really hard on making my weaknesses better.”