Van der Dussen puts World Cup disappointment aside to help younger teammates

Rassie van der Dussen and Ryan Rickelton at the Proteas training camp in Tshwane on Wednesday.
Rassie van der Dussen and Ryan Rickelton at the Proteas training camp in Tshwane on Wednesday.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Rassie van der Dussen admits that he finds himself in “a weird situation” as he prepares to head to the West Indies with the Proteas this weekend. 

Omitted from the squad for the T20 World Cup, Van der Dussen has had to try to suppress his disappointment while also assisting close mates and younger players with their preparation for the tournament. He is in a 15-player squad for the three T20 Internationals against the West Indies in Jamaica next week. Half of that group will then head to the US, where SA will open their T20 World Cup against Sri Lanka, in New York on June 3. 

“Obviously I’m disappointed not to be in the final 15, anyone would be. I’ve had a really good year, I gave myself every chance that I could to break into the 15, but at the end of the day the coach has to make his call and pick the 15 he thinks has the best chance.”

The West Indies series would have counted as a warm-up ahead of the World Cup, but because eight players, including skipper Aiden Markram, are still at the IPL, head coach Rob Walter had to select an alternate squad for the Caribbean.

“It’s just a weird situation,” said Van der Dussen. “Ideally you want the squad to spend some time together and play together, but the IPL complicates that to an extent.”

Van der Dussen remains the second highest run scorer in all T20 matches in 2024, scoring 1,023 runs at a strike rate of 146.33. The problem for him is that two of his teammates at the DP World Lions, Reeza Hendricks and Ryan Rickelton, are third and fourth this year, and the wafer thin margins between the trio was always going to leave someone feeling disheartened. 

“In terms of reasons given ... there were reasons given ... whether I agree with them or not is irrelevant,” he said about missing out on a World Cup spot. “It is not a case of me standing here saying I need to be there instead of someone else, this squad is really strong and is really well balanced.”

The 35-year-old has been to three World Cups, two of them in the ODI format in which he holds a magnificent record, scoring 759 runs across 19 matches at an average of 54.21. His sole T20 World Cup appearance came in 2021 in the Middle East, where he was the Proteas’ leading run-scorer, with 177 and a strike rate of 116.44. 

While coming to terms with his own disappointment, Van der Dussen also understands that as one of the senior pros he has valuable knowledge to share. “A World Cup and a (bilateral) series, it’s chalk and cheese. A lot of times guys want to treat (a World Cup encounter) as a normal game, but the fact is you’re just lying to yourself (if you do that). It is so much bigger than that, but the sooner you embrace that, that it is the world stage, it is where you want to be, then it becomes so much easier to handle it in the moment,” he said. 

“I have long-standing good relationships with guys like Ryan and Bjorn (Fortuin) ... in the next two weeks my primary role is to see what I can instil upon them. If there is one moment, where they can recall something I said and it helps them, then I suppose my job is fulfilled.”

The Proteas depart for Kingston on Saturday. The first match will be played next Thursday.

Meanwhile Kagiso Rabada returned home early from the IPL after picking up a soft tissue infection in his right leg. Rabada consulted a specialist shortly after his return, and his progress is being monitored by Cricket SA’s medical team. He will not be heading to the Caribbean at the weekend, but the injury is believed not to be serious and shouldn’t hamper his World Cup campaign.


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