Rassie van der Dussen on his way to a well-played half-century against tournament favourites England in the World Cup opener at The Oval on Thursday. The Proteas went on to lose that game. Photo: Paul Childs/Reuters
Now that Prince Harry has made his speech, the balloons have been let off, and the rest of the opening game fanfare is out of the way, South Africa can get on with their serious business at this World Cup.

They took the day off yesterday to fully comprehend what actually happened against England at The Oval.

It certainly wasn’t a case of being overawed by the occasion as some have suggested on social media.

England were just more clinical, in every facet of the game. Proteas batsman Rassie van der Dussen admits South Africa were well short of performing at their optimum level, but they will be better off now that they have had a game under their belts.

“We were probably at 70 percent, so that’s not where we want to be,” said Van der Dussen, who began his World Cup career with a composed half-century. “It’s the first game, a stepping stone for us. At the end of the day, you want to peak at the right time and that’s at the back end. It’s the start of a long competition where you want to have an ongoing upwards curve.”

Van der Dussen knows all about a team growing stronger the longer a tournament progresses. Domestically he plays for the Highveld Lions and Jozi Stars in the Mzansi Super League. Last season he played an integral role in helping both teams time their assault to perfection in the run-in to the first-class competition and MSLT20 titles. However, this is a brand new stage with the glare of the world on his every move. It could be a daunting prospect for a player that has only represented his country in 10 ODIs.

“There were a few nerves,” Van der Dusen admitted, but then said he enjoyed the atmosphere, whether or not it favoured the Proteas.

“There are a lot of South Africans in London so we are grateful to them for coming out. The English crowd is a hostile crowd but a respectable crowd. They give credit where credit is due and that’s something nice,” he added.

The roar of the home fans certainly grew louder after every South African wicket that fell during the run-chase.

However, there was a period in the game when Van der Dussen and Quinton de Kock were together at the crease that The Oval faithful were anticipating the worst.

“When myself and Quinny were in there, if we could have stayed there together for five or 10 more overs, it would have really put pressure on them. We just lost too many wickets along the way,” Van der Dussen said.

South Africa have a few issues to contend with heading into tomorrow’s clash with Bangladesh.

Having lost their last seven wickets for 65 runs, resulting in the 104-run defeat, the Proteas’ feeble middle-order was once again exposed.

David Miller was considered surplus to requirements for the opener, but the powerful left-hander could now come back into the reckoning.

Van der Dussen has guarded against any “drastic changes”, still believing the Proteas can bounce back.

“Everybody’s games are in a good space. We worked really hard over the last few weeks and everybody knows where they are. It will be a situation of just topping up on some of the batting and bowling skills, no drastic changes. If we are at our best or close to it, we can beat any side.”

@ZaahierAdams


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