IOL Sport writer, Lungani Zama.
Cricket has always been about timing. Several moving parts have to be in sync in order for one to be successful. As the South African World Cup team takes oft-debated shape, one man’s timing has stood out like a gleaming flashlight in Stage Four load-shedding. Absolutely impossible to ignore.

Rassie van der Dussen was challenged, in a very small window of opportunity, to show his abilities to play anywhere in the batting order. From three to six, accumulator to accelerator. That was put to him, when he arrived in the camp for the Pakistan ODI series.

Pass this test, they said, and your winter plans may well change. Those that had come before him had not done quite enough to settle the selectors’ procrastinations. After all, a World Cup squad has to have the hallmarks of quality leather.

It must be pliable, but it dare not crack. Especially under pressure.

Van der Dussen has shown those virtues, his body of work ranging from measured doses of sensiblity such as Durban, and then onto more violent pursuits, such as his cameo in the second T20 international against Sri Lanka.

He has shown that he has five, six or maybe even seven gears to his batting. He can knock and nudge dutifully, but he can also brutally take an attack to the cleaners when he must.

Of course, those who have watched him closely at the Lions will attest that his time has been coming. Other players who caught the eye have jumped him in the queue, but they have also fallen back. Their games and temperaments were not fully developed.

You can’t run before you can walk, and that adage holds very true in batting under pressure. Win matches in the back garden. Win matches for your school side. Win matches for your amateur side. Win matches for your franchises and then, one day, you will be equipped to win matches for your national side when the call comes.

Even when he watched supposed prodigies breeze past him like misguided shooting stars, Van der Dussen kept his counsel. Of course, shooting stars tend to burn out long before they hit the ground. Hot air, and all that.

Van der Dussen has always had both feet firmly on the ground, a point emphasised whenever he holds a press conference. No hyperbole. No pretence. Just an unerring straight bat at every question. You might even mistake his indifference for aloofness, but that is a long way from the truth.

He is fiercely passionate and proud of his lot in the game, and is well aware of his place and responsibility within that framework.

It has become quite the fashion to criticise some or other part of South African cricket when opportunities don’t come as hastily as some of the previously entitled deem fast enough.

Truth be told, Van der Dussen has had significantly more legitimate claims than many of the louder prophets of doom. Instead, he has let his bat and his character do the talking, and they have finally been heard.

The Mzansi Super League was well-timed for him, and by him. He scorched his way into the wider consciousness with some frightful finishing for the victorious Jozi Stars.

Rassie who?

Oh yeah, him. He’s been around, hasn’t he?

Now, almost serendipitously, the 30 year-old finds himself on the brink of a World Cup appearance. If the selection race was over 1500m, then he has waited until the final 200m to kick on. And he hasn’t looked back.

The selectors must now surely ask any lingering questions of others, because Van der Dussen has calmly answered every cricketing question put in front of him over the last two months. He is ready. More than he will ever be. Timing...

@whamzam17


Sunday Tribune

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