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Van der Dussen: International T20 tournaments pivotal to my development

The advent of lucrative T20 tournaments around the world have given many a cricketer a fat pay cheque that will sustain them for life after the game, but for Proteas latest batting sensation Rassie van der Dussen the T20 leagues gave him a platform to develop and get recognition.

South African cricket player Rassie van der Dussen at Primedia offices. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The advent of lucrative Twenty20 tournaments around the world have given many a cricketer a fat pay cheque that will sustain them for life after the game, but for Proteas batting sensation, Rassie van der Dussen, the T20 leagues gave him a platform to develop and get recognition.

With just nine one-day internationals under his belt, the 30-year-old Hendrick Erasmus van der Dussen was included in South Africa’s 15-man squad for the Cricket World Cup in the UK starting in May. Van der Dussen has grabbed every opportunity afforded to him by the national selectors, averaging 88.25 in those nine appearances for his country with a top score of 93.

But before the international plaudits Van der Dussen enjoyed, he had to venture into the profitable but tough environments of global T20 leagues around the world.

Seeking opportunities wherever they might arise, Van der Dussen had played cricket in South Africa, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada and the Caribbean before he finally caught the national selectors' eyes and made his T20I debut against Zimbabwe in October 2018.

Van der Dussen had also been part of South Africa A's tour to India earlier that year, and the accumulated effect of his experience in such a wide variety of conditions has made him a dynamic, adaptable batsman at the top of the order or in the middle.

A naturally attacking batsman, Van der Dussen has also been able to translate his talents into long-format cricket and was top-scorer in South Africa's first-class domestic competition in 2017-18, as well as being the Lions vice-captain. But it was his success in cricket's shortest format that made Van der Dussen impossible to ignore.

He was an integral part of the Vancouver Knights team that won the 2018 Global T20 Canada, after which he was recruited by the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots in the Caribbean Premier League and capped the year by topping the batting charts with 469 runs at a strike rate of 138.75 in the Jozi Stars' run to the inaugural Mzansi Super League title. Van der Dussen transitioned easily into international cricket, striking a fifty on T20I debut against Zimbabwe and following that up with 93 in his first ODI against Pakistan.

By his own admission, Van der Dussen credited the voyages to the Caribbean, Canada, the Netherlands, Ireland and England as being crucial to his development as a person and as a batsman.

“The T20 leagues showed me that I can mix it up with the best in the world. There are some big international names that you come up against and not having played international cricket before, I was a bit of an unknown entity.

“I didn’t want to prove to anyone else but myself that I can perform against the best in the world and it showed me that I can do it.”

Untainted by the Proteas' misfortunes in the past major tournaments, Van der Dussen has transitioned well into international cricket and will undoubtedly be a key component of South Africa’s bid to win their first World Cup title.

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