Rudolph nears 1000 runs
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – A century from Yorkshire’s in-form Jacques Rudolph led a cheeky assault on a stiff victory target of 369 in 83 overs against Essex at Chelmsford in the County Championship.
The compelling four-day match was eventually drawn as the visitors, who still narrowly lead the Division One table, shut up shop and ended on 333 for seven – only 36 short of an unlikely triumph.
At one stage they were firmly in the hunt, with the left-handed South African at the forefront of the charge.
He registered 106 and, according to Cricinfo on Sunday, “played with supreme confidence, coaxing the ball around the field with classic timing”.
But once he was dismissed the chase stuttered a little and Yorkshire settled for a share of the spoils.
Nevertheless, the innings took Rudolph significantly closer to the 1000-runs mark in the Championship: he is presently on 961 at an average of 56.52.
Only team-mate Adam Lyth, the opening batsman, has more runs in the competition at present (1184 at 62.31).
But Rudolph continues to excel for the county, where he was named in a BBC “Championship team of the season” after the 2008 season.
The 29-year-old, who has played 35 Tests for the Proteas (average 36.21) but is currently precluded from selection as he is on a Kolpak deal with Yorkshire, is known to retain some dreams of a recall for his country.
He is as comfortable opening the innings as he is at No 3, and if the South African Test team has one relative weakness it is in the other slot at the helm of the order alongside captain Graeme Smith.
The jury remains out on whether Alviro Petersen, who has blown hot and cold in early exposure, offers long-term potential in the role.
He is the same age as Rudolph and averages 34 after four Tests, although he is probably entitled to feel he deserves a few more opportunities to nail down his position.