Rassie van der Dussen: On October 9, 2018, a T20 international took place at East London featuring two teams that have never had it any easy in Cricket. On the one hand was Zimbabwe, who, despite a rich history of exceptional talents, have had to prove their credentials again and again to play the very sport itself. And on the other, South Africa who, back in the day, were largely a body in transformation.
With no Amla, AB and Steyn either, the batting department weighed heavy on Faf, who was still a part of the white-ball set-up unlike the absentee he’s become today for little fault of his.
There was the baby-faced destroyer de Kock and Killer Miller; but just this trinity wasn’t enough to completely outplay a Zimbabwean side featuring Williams, Taylor, Masakadza.
Interestingly, South Africa reached 160 in the end, a total that proved just enough to defy Zimbabwe, that despite Peter Moore’s 21-ball-44 runs blinder, seemed all set to clinch the contest.
No, Faf didn’t top score, although his 20-ball-34 did just enough to add spark to the Protea scoreboard. But the man who fueled that Protea fire was a cricketing newbie at the international level.
His name? Rassie van der Dussen. His contribution? After openers de Kock and Cloete accounted for just seven runs up top, the T20I debutant fired 56 off just 44 deliveries, a knock that featured nearly half a dozen boundaries and a lofty six.
The tall Transvaalian wasted no time whatsoever in rescuing a bleeding scorecard that looked anything but pretty at 11-2 inside two overs and offered a very armored thrust sort of push the Proteas so desperately needed as if an army of valiant men were bleeding.
A year later, in the mother of all cricketing battles, i.e., the ODI Men’s World Cup of 2019, Rassive van der Dussen found himself amid a familiar setting to that of East London’s. Just that the ignominy suffered by his team was bigger, their plight even more evident.
Prior to entering their last contest in Cricket’s show-stopping event in England, South Africa had lost to India, England, New Zealand, and endured a wash-out against the Windies with wins against teams like Sri Lanka being their only real achievement should one call it that.
Though this last hurdle was no hurdle as such since the fate for the South African campaign had already been decided. The writing was on the wall.
If anything, a loss to Australia at the Old Trafford would have totally dissipated the South African spirit, their hopes of dominating the elite competition already deflated by a string of woeful performances.
But then something happened. Something that has, since then gone down as one of modern cricket journalism’s hugely under-reported performances, yet one that’s full of vigor and spirit, quintessential South African virtues.
Batting first, South Africa posted 325 for the loss of six wickets, with no mega runs from Markram, de Kock or Duminy, the latter playing his final ever world cup contest.
The Australian pace attack, someone only the worst Twitter troller or meme addict would dub insipid, was perhaps at its ferocious best; Starc and Cummins attacked in tandem and if there was such a thing as a reprieve, then captain Finch brought on Lyon and Behrendorff.
Yet, two men joined forces as they had a few months back in the day, one among them, and the Proteas captain, responsible for scoring the only century from the wonderful country’s contingent. His name? Francois Faf du Plessis.
And the other was the man you know today for his initials; RVD. Rassie van der Dussen.
In doing a Jean Claude Van Damme with the bat to the Australians. The right-hander arguably played his most vital one-day knock as on date. A 95 off 97 that first solidified South Africa’s middle order crisis, then resuscitated the team slow scoring rate, before firing some scud missiles into the skies during a meticulously constructed world cup fifty, the likes of which true Protea fans are likely to never forget.
Implicit in the 151-run stand between Faf and Rassie was the never-say-die spirit that we love South Africa for. And in some ways, it was only fitting that whilst Faf, a legend though often underrated, was at the one hand, on the other was the man who’s batting offered the whiff of hope to a team that so desperately needed.
Remember the South of 2019 looked in no way similar to the one we see in 2022 barring Markram, Rabada and Ngidi, Miller and de Kock.
No more a side with the braveheart Faf and no longer amid the comfort of being served by heroes whether Steyn, AB, Philander, Amla and Tahir, the only constant if at all is Rassie van der Dussen.
Yes Markram’s white-ball credentials have only soared since the 2019 world cup campaign lull (140 runs at the average of 23). Surely, Janneman Malan is a find for the side. And definitely, the presence of Pretorius and Nortje, two of the finest fast bowlers possessing enviable physiques offer great confidence.
But imagine a Proteas white-ball set without Rassie van der Dussen today and you see a ship without its anchor. You see a lanky skyscraper minus a solid ground floor foundation.
The man who, it seems, just yesterday arrived in the sport as an avid cricketer albeit aged 29 has in the course of the past four years become almost the bulwark around which the Protea batting revolves.
Yet, what’s gone unanswered is just how widely has RVD’s heroics, several of which have come this very year, been reported? Which precisely puts the question to the mature, level-headed blokes who call themselves cricket journalists but are found guilty of perhaps only “over reporting” clichéd stories that either only revolve about the sub-continental “stars” or when not, then conveniently focus just the Fab Four.
That’s as if the others, however big, not big, promising, developing, don’t matter?
This, mind you, isn’t a wild swipe at journalists; it’s just what it is.
Had that not been the case, then why haven’t we heard enough stories about a Rassie, who despite scoring no fewer than 476 runs from 9 ODI’s at an average of 79?
Where are the opinion pieces, feature stories about Rassie van der Dussen, whose 75 off 46 deliveries against India in the Delhi T20I earlier this year led to a record shattering win for his team? That’s not to forget, an embarrassing outcome for a Pant, Pandya, Karthik, Iyer-powered India? For a batsman who wasn’t first perceived a destructor from the word go, Rassie van der Dussen, it could be said, hasn’t done too bad in the shortest format, has he?
Yet, it hardly never occurs to us that the all-format Protea bat is someone whose T20I average is 36 today, not to forget an ODI average touching 70.
|Matches||Runs||Bat Avg||Highest Score||50s, 100s|
|16 (28 innings)||843||32.4||98||6 (fifties, 0 tons)|
|Matches||Runs||Bat Avg||Highest score||50s, 100s|
|Matches||Runs||Bat Avg||SR||Highest score|
|41 (37 innings)||1044||36||128||94 (7 fifties)|
All we hear and are likely to in a “I shall only obsess about the mainstream guys” journalism world are stories of how Babar, Kohli, Williamson, Smith and the rest go about their game.
Not that any of the four legends can be blamed for they don’t put a gun on the journalists’ head, do they?
But can we just grow up a bit and accommodate space to where it belongs; to a vastly improved South Africa, one soldiered by the likes of Rassie, a sight that’s just about as important to the sport as Virat Kohli and Babar’s cover drive?