- Grant Roelofsen has been outstanding for the Dolphins in the past two seasons
- He understands there’s a lot of work he needs to do despite his excellent form
- He initially was at St Stithians, but finished his high school education at King Edward VII School
Grant Roelofsen is a serious cricketer, but a jovial human being.
The jovial 24-year-old Dolphins right-handed wicketkeeper-batsman from the West Rand has a caller tune on his phone that he is battling to remove.
"I've been meaning to remove it for so long. It’s so terrible and I don’t know how to get rid of it," he chuckles when answering the call from Potchefstroom, where the six domestic franchises are based for the One Day Cup.
"I don’t even know I got it!"
For all his white ball prowess that saw him become the top run-scorer in last season’s One Day Cup with 588 runs from 10 innings at 65.33 with one big ton (147*) and five 50’s, Roelofsen also made an immediate first-class impression on debut for Gauteng against KwaZulu-Inland, the team that would resuscitate his career.
In that particular fixture four years ago, Roelofsen’s 89-ball 51 was the top score in Gauteng’s first innings of 150, but Devon Conway’s second innings 129 took the game away from Inland and gave the Lions a comfortable win.
Not that Roelofsen, who went to St Stithians before moving to the batting factory of King Edward VII School from Helderkruin Primary, is concerned about his white ball numbers taking precedence.
"It’s funny that when I started at the Dolphins, I was being bracketed as a red-ball specialist. In my first off-season with the Dolphins, one of my main focusses was getting better in white ball cricket. I really want to play Test cricket for my country and I think I neglected the white-ball aspect," Roelofsen said.
"I put in the hard yards and I really wanted to make it a focus because I don’t want to be bracketed in one format. I want to be able to play in all formats and the Dolphins have backed me enough to give me the opportunities that I’ve tried to make the most of. I’d like a few more hundreds though, but the Dolphins are playing good cricket across all formats."
Moving around to get better at cricket has been part of Roelofsen’s life, even though there was little that seperated St Stithians and KES. Roelofsen, who was encouraged by his Gauteng Under-13 coach Elias Thlabanyane to move to Saints for his early part of his high school, had a real world shock in his time in Randburg and Houghton Estate.
"To go to an English school was a bit of a shock to the system, but a good one because it opened my eyes to the real world. A lot of the West Rand is very sheltered and very Afrikaans-based, especially where I’m from. To go to KES was probably what I needed in high school for a real world experience," Roelofsen said.
"I played in the Under-13 Week and our coach at the time was at St Stithians and said I needed to go to their school if I was going to play cricket and make something out of it. I left there at the end of Grade nine, but my coach at the time was an absolute gem."
SA’s cricket, on and off the field, finds itself in a tricky transitional period. The on-field involves the finding of the right combinations, especially in the 50-over game.
There were serious embers of improvement in last year’s series against Australia where the likes of Janneman Malan and Kyle Verrenyne left impressions.
It’s still early doors in the 2020/21 One Day Cup, but Roelofsen has already collected 157 runs that have played a crucial role in the Dolphins’ title defence with two wins from two games.
Roelofsen understands the 2023 Cricket World Cup is around the corner and the competition for places has hotted up significantly in the aftermath of retirements and the poor 2019 World Cup, but also understands the need to be patient.
"I am disappointed that I didn’t get a good go in the Mzansi Super League, but I do understand if I keep on putting in the good performances, the opportunities will come and that’s how it is," he said.
"Guys are doing well around the countries in the other formats and that’s good for the game. It also shows the faith management has in the system because performances can and will be rewarded."