‘Temba is a world-class player, he’s a brilliant leader,’ says long-time teammate Rassie van der Dussen

‘Temba is a world-class player, he’s a brilliant leader,’ says long-time teammate Rassie van der Dussen
Captain Temba Bavuma plays a shot during the Proteas' second T20 match against India in Guwahati on 2 October 2022. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Gallo Images)

Rassie van der Dussen is sidelined with an injury for the upcoming T20I World Cup. Despite that, the middle-order batter believes the Proteas can go all the way under skipper Temba Bavuma’s leadership.

Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma have played together for more than 10 years, dating back to 2012 when Van Der Dussen joined the Lions franchise in Johannesburg.

The Proteas captain is currently going through a slump in form, having gone out for a duck in his last two innings in South Africa’s ongoing T20 series against India.

However, Van Der Dussen has backed the national skipper to get back into form and lead the side with poise in the T20 World Cup in Australia in two weeks.

“The nature of batting in cricket is sometimes it’s going to go well for you and sometimes it’s not. As a player you learn to deal with it throughout your career and it doesn’t only happen once, it happens a few times throughout your career,” Van der Dussen told Daily Maverick.

“Temba is a world-class player, he’s a brilliant leader. There’s no real debate about that. Guys are going to struggle at some stage. Before [the second T20I against India], Quinny [de Kock] had a few rough games as well. It’s just the nature of the game, it’s just how cricket is. That’s what makes it so tough to play.”

The pressure of being part of the national side and leading the team in particular, comes with the territory of being a professional sports player in South Africa, according to Van Der Dussen.

Temba Bavuma during the Proteas’ match against India at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati on 2 October 2022 . (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Gallo Images)

“I’ve known and played with Temba for a long time. Entering into a role in professional cricket and even as an international cricketer and even more as a national captain, you know it’s going to come with certain people having certain opinions. You know it’s going to come with scrutiny and pressure and you accept that going into the role,” he said.

“I don’t think anything will change from Temba’s point of view, he knows he’s a world-class player. We’ve all seen that. That’s the bottom line.”

World Cup glory

Van Der Dussen, still in a finger brace, is making faster progress than expected with the injury he sustained in the second Test against England.

“The finger recovery is going well, it should be another two or three weeks but we are a few weeks ahead of schedule. Initially it looked like I’ll only return in November somewhere, but I’m hoping for mid-October,” he said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Batting woes plague Proteas as T20 World Cup looms 

“Cricket South Africa has made a lot of resources available for me in terms of accelerating the healing process.”

Van Der Dussen has been a mainstay in the South African middle order in both white-ball formats – T20 and One Day Internationals – leading up to the T20 global showpiece.

Unfortunately for him, the finger injury means he won’t be available for the Proteas in Australia.

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“It’s a tough one to swallow. Especially as a T20 side we’ve come a long way in the last two years and I’d like to think I played some sort of role in that. So to not be there is really disappointing,” he said.

“But, it’s sport, injury is a part of sport and you can’t get around it. At some stage in your career, you’re going to deal with it. I’m just focusing on trying to get back as soon as possible.”

Rassie van der Dussen celebrates after scoring 50 runs against India at Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi on 9 June 2022. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Gallo Images)

South Africa’s T20I series against India is not going well, having lost the opening two matches (by eight wickets and 16 runs, respectively) with the dead rubber taking place on Wednesday.

However, Van Der Dussen says the matches need to be viewed through a different prism.

“I think it’s important for people to see these games in context,” he said.

“Obviously you want to win every game as a team and every series. But leading into the World Cup it’s important to have a look at some options, get your best 12/13 guys ready and in the frame of mind that it’s going to win you a tournament.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Proteas’ brittle batting contributes to England series win

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Temba Bavuma back to lead Proteas at T20 World Cup

“It’s really exciting, we have a lot of options in the bowling department and the batting. The challenge for the selectors and the coach will be to choose our best 11 because I think all 15 players can play a role.

“We’ve shown in the last year or two that we’re a world-class side, we can beat anyone. We just beat England at home. The key for us is to get into the frame of mind that we know we can dominate any team and rock up on the day.” DM


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