Cape Town - Rassie van der Dussen experienced
the lowest of lows with the Proteas in 2019, but he is
determined to be part of the revolution that puts things right in 2020.
While the 30-year-old was one of the few members of
the squad to leave the 2019 World Cup with his reputation enhanced thanks to a
series of gutsy innings, he felt the backlash of an irate cricketing community
back homey as much as anyone as the Proteas limped to a shocking seventh-place
finish in England.
It was an incredibly testing year for cricket in
South Africa, both in and off the field.
While the World Cup display was abysmal in
isolation, the overall feeling towards the Proteas was made even worse by five
straight Test defeats that included an embarrassing 2-0 series to defeat to Sri
Lanka on home soil and then a 3-0 thrashing to India away.
By the time Cricket South Africa (CSA) suspended
its CEO Thabang Moroe in early December following one of the darkest periods in
the organisation's history, most had lost faith in the overall product.
Almost out of nowhere, though, there has been an
injection of much-needed optimism into the Proteas with the arrival of Graeme
Smith as Director of Cricket and Mark Boucher as head coach and the pair got
their tenure off to the perfect start last week with a commanding 107-run win
over England in the first Test at Centurion.
Van der Dussen, on debut, contributed to what was
easily the most polished Proteas performance of the year in the longest format.
While he acknowledged that he was more nervous than
he had ever been in his career waiting tobat on day one at SuperSport Park, Van
der Dussen chipped in with a crucial knock of 51 in South Africa's second
innings and shared in a 91-run stand with night-watchman Anrich Nortje that
effectively took the game away from the visitors.
Speaking after the match, Boucher acknowledged that
it would be incredibly difficult to leave Van der Dussen out for the second
Test in Cape Town later this week, despite the return to fitness of Temba
Van der Dussen, it seems, has the inside line to
starting in Cape Town and given the consistent composure he has shown in
national colours in high-pressured situations so far, it is hard to argue with
Cricketing ability aside, Van der Dussen is also a
player with immense leadership potential and those qualities were on display once
again on Wednesday as he addressed media at Newlands.
"We didn't have a lot of preparation time
before the first Test and credit must go to the coaching staff. The work ethic was
something I had never seen before with the intensity at training," he
said, looking back to the win at Centurion.
"It's a new dawn of South African cricket and
we were desperate to regain the public's faith in us and Cricket South Africa.
"That's something that comes with playing for
your country ... you have that responsibility to the fans and public to put in
good performances and win matches.
"Last year wasn't the best year for CSA or the
Proteas, but that victory and the fight and camaraderie out there on the field
showed what we are about as a team. We are committed to giving it our all every
moment of every day."
Van der Dussen then spoke about the difference in
energy between the Proteas now and the group he travelled to the World Cup
"I think there is a different atmosphere in
the changeroom," he said.
"Boucher, Kallis and those guys have brought
that really hard mentality that I think you need in Test cricket. It's really a
high-pressure environment out there and you need that toughness, which is why
Graeme Smith probably brought in a guy like Mark Boucher who is known as a
"As a team we have those characteristics, but
a guy like Boucher really brought it out of us.
"I think that's something we want to really
pride ourselves on moving forward, is being a team of fighters.
"Faf mentioned there are not a lot of
superstars in our team, but there are guys who will run through brick
The second Test starts at Newlands on Friday.