“I don’t like superhero movies at all,” Rassie van der Dussen sighed after hearing how his Highveld Lions team-mate Dwaine Pretorius had whiled away the time waiting for the announcement of South Africa’s Cricket World Cup squad on Thursday by watching a Thor movie.
In contrast to previous years, this time the players were not informed of their selection beforehand and had to watch SuperSport’s live broadcast of the squad announcement like the rest of the country, and all-rounder Pretorius, who had to see off stiff competition from Wiaan Mulder and Chris Morris to make the final 15, was the more nervous of the two Lions stars.
“It was an interesting experience not to know ahead of time, quite nervewracking. The morning went like three times slower than normal and I ended up watching a Thor movie to let the time pass and that got me through to one o’clock. I’m not sure what sealed my selection in the end, I’m just one of the lucky ones, but I was thinking that my batting numbers were the best of all the all-rounders in contention …
“But it’s been a massive journey and I’m still pinching myself. I was out of the team for about 12 months and then I just tried to make the best of my opportunity when I was chosen to go to Australia and I was very fortunate to perform well when I needed to. I knew any game could be my last and one bad game would end my World Cup dream,” Pretorius said at the Wanderers on Thursday afternoon.
For Van der Dussen, who averages 88.25 after nine ODIs for South Africa, the wait was not quite as anxious, but with players of the calibre of Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram and Reeza Hendricks all competing for batting places, he knew his selection was not a done deal.
And when he saw his name in the 15, he admitted to understanding just a little bit more about how superheroes feel.
“I don’t usually show emotion, my wife always abuses me about it but that’s just how I look, but I did get emotional watching the Proteas video, being in the system was what I worked so hard for and to be in that environment brings you like superhero strength. So I’m over the moon, although my heart is heavy for Reeza missing out.
“I was a bit nervous but quietly confident, but then when the names started coming up, my heart started pounding. You try not to think about selection but then you keep thinking about it. But over the last year the key has been that I just decided that if it doesn’t happen then I will find something else. Previously I was trying to push myself to do well against the very best, just to prove to myself that I can do it, but now I wasn’t playing with that pressure,” Van der Dussen said.
Both Pretorius and Van der Dussen were glad they had managed to put in performances at the right time to win over the selectors.
“I worked hard on my mental game and tried to not compete with anyone else. That helped a lot and I will take the same mentality into the World Cup, just try and be the best I can be. I’ve learnt a lot this season and it’s been nice to contribute to the Highveld Lions too, franchise cricket is where internationals are made and you want to make your mistakes there.
“That 77 not out against Sri Lanka meant a lot to me because it was only the third or fourth time I’d had the opportunity to really bat for the Proteas. It was like a one-day situation because there were 14 overs left when I came in, so that was very pleasing and I gained a lot of confidence from that. I was glad to be able to show what I have with the bat and I like to think I’ll be able to bat the same way at the World Cup,” Pretorius said.
“In sport, timing is everything, and I was fortunate to perform at the right time,” Van der Dussen said.
“You’re going to do badly at some stage, especially as a batsman, and you just hope that your bad spells come when it’s not as important. You can thank hard work, mental strength, whatever, for your selection, but I definitely had some luck as well.
“I’m 30 now so I think I can see things more objectively and pressure is what you make of it. It’s part and parcel of sport and you have to make your peace with it. I’ve done it for various teams and now hopefully I can do it for South Africa, which would be the pinnacle. I was a bit of an unknown entity but now I’ve shown that I can perform against the best in the world,” Van der Dussen said.