Proteas

Rassie haunted by Wanderers 98, hungry for World Cup glory

2020-05-19 08:49
Rassie van der Dussen (Gallo)
Rassie van der Dussen (Gallo)

Isolating with the rest of South Africa at his Centurion home, Proteas batsman Rassie van der Dussen still lies awake at night thinking about his last Test innings for his country. 

It came in the fourth Test against England at the Wanderers - a ground Van der Dussen knows better than any given his long history with the Lions - in late January. 

Van der Dussen had been dismissed for 0 in the first innings of a match that the Proteas went on to lose - they lost the series 3-1 - and he seemed to have recorded an unwanted pair when, in the second innings, he was given out lbw off the bowling of Chris Woakes, again when he was on 0. 

It looked to have been a nightmare return to the 'Bull Ring' for Van der Dussen, but he reviewed the decision and it was overturned with the ball sailing over the top of the stumps. 

In a losing cause, Van der Dussen was then at his best. Positive in his approach and scoring all around the ground, he picked the English attack apart and looked comfortable against everyone along the way. 

In heart-breaking fashion, Van der Dussen was eventually out for 98 (138) in just his fourth Test match when he punched Mark Wood straight to Stuart Broad at extra cover, falling two runs short of what would have been a maiden century for his country. 

Van der Dussen has been in the Proteas set-up for nearly a year-and-a-half now and he has become a vital component in all three formats, but he still hasn't carded three figures for South Africa in any format. 

"I still think about it," Van der Dussen told Sport24. 

"I have three 90s and I think and 80-odd not out. All three of those 90s could have probably been hundreds had one or two things maybe gone my way. But in that 98 at the Wanderers I survived an lbw shout where I was given out and I referred it, so you've got to take the rough with the smooth.

"I still lie at night and think about that moment that could have been and you allow yourself those five minutes, but then you bring your mind back to thinking about how you're going to get there the next time. How am I going to improve and keep improving as a player for South Africa?"

Rassie van der Dussen (Gallo)

Rassie van der Dussen is dismissed for 98 at the Wanderers against England (Gallo)

Now 31, Van der Dussen has had to be patient to wait for his Proteas chance. He may not have any centuries yet, he has hit the ground running in South African colours and it is difficult to picture any full-strength Proteas side, regardless of the format, without him included. 

With AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla no longer, and with Faf du Plessis nearing the end of his story, top order pedigree and strength is something the Proteas desperately need moving forward and they seem to have found it in Van der Dussen. 

There is, of course, plenty of uncertainty at the moment regarding when exactly the national side will assemble again. 

A tour to the West Indies for two Tests and five T20Is is scheduled for July, but at this stage it seems highly unlikely that it will take place given South Africa's lockdown status and the fight against the coronavirus. 

"If you're playing well, and I think most of the individuals in our team have been, then you want to keep going," Van der Dussen said. 

"But there is not much sense in giving it too much attention. It is what it is, and you play the cards that you've been dealt. You might miss a tour or two, but there are bigger problems."

The Proteas are also set to host India in a blockbuster three-match T20 series in late August, but that, too, is in doubt. 

T20 cricket is the priority for the Proteas this year with the World Cup scheduled to take place in Australia in October. It represents another opportunity for South Africa to finally land a major piece if ICC silverware and Van der Dussen, who was one of the few Proteas success stories at the failed 2019 50-over World Cup campaign in England, believes they can do just that. 

"What I'm trying to do is be in the World Cup team and I want to win a World Cup. There is no reason why we can't," he said. 

"A World Cup is at the top of the list, but in running that race there are other things that you need in place. You need to become a better player, become a better person and influence your team-mates. As the Proteas we have a platform to influence our country positively and make people proud.

"All those thing tie into that one goal of winning a World Cup."

The century hasn't come yet, but it surely will. In the broader picture, anyway, such personal accolades are secondary to the needs of the team. 

"As a player, I want to keep winning games for my country," he said. 

"I can't explain the feeling of being out there when you're 'not out' and chasing a score down. That's probably one of the best feelings in the world, so I want to keep making sure that I'm putting myself in those positions."

It has happened so naturally and without fuss, but over the last 18 months Van der Dussen has moved from being an international rookie to one of the most important figures - on and off the field - in this Proteas set-up. 

Rassie van der Dussen's Proteas record:

Tests - 4 matches, 274 runs @ 34.25

ODIs - 21 matches, 707 runs @ 70.70

T20Is - 15 matches, 406 runs @ 31.23

Read more on:    proteas  |  rassie van der dussen  |  cricket

 

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