The Cricket World Cup is all but over for the Proteas following their heart-breaking defeat to New Zealand on Wednesday.
But the sun came up again in Birmingham on Thursday, and somehow, Faf du Plessis’ team will have to pick themselves up for three more games in the UK, starting on Sunday against Pakistan at Lord’s in London (11.30am SA time).
And after the tournament, the future of the team will have to be carried by a number of newer faces, as the likes of Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir and probably Dale Steyn call it quits in the ODI arena – and there could be others who follow.
The younger brigade of Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi will have to take charge ahead of the 2023 edition.
Van der Dussen has already made a serious impression since making his debut this season, and was the top-scorer on Wednesday with an unbeaten 67 off 64 balls to take the Proteas to 241/6 in their 49 overs.
So, while the rest of the country and the team may be down and out, the Lions star is one of the few shining lights at the moment.
“We knew 240 was a good score. It’s tough when you play well and you leave it all out there, and it doesn’t go your way. That’s what we did,” the 30-year-old right-hander said at a post-match press conference.
“Every game, I go out there and I try and perform, learn and adapt. Every game is an experience, especially here.
“A lot of the guys have never played on these fields, and for me, I’ve never played against a lot of these guys, so coming up against them and doing okay, I will definitely draw on that going forward.”
Considering the batting troubles up to now, it may be a good idea to move Van der Dussen up the order against Pakistan.
There aren’t many other alternatives for coach Ottis Gibson, with JP Duminy having also struggled so far and losing his place in the team.
“It’s the national team, it’s the best batters in the country,” Van der Dussen said.
“When you get to this level, you’ve got to know what you’re about, and I’ve been lucky that it has come off for me.
“If that shows leadership, then so be it. Every game, every time you represent your country, the Proteas, is a good day and it’s an honour.
“It’s a game for your country and why we play this game. We won’t let up on the intensity at all. Our character will be shown in these remaining three games.”
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