Lanky Jansen deadpans fine Proteas start and ICC nomination: 'Haven't really thought about it'

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Marco Jansen. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Marco Jansen. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
  • Marco Jansen says he didn't really notice being nominated as one of the ICC's emerging players of 2022.
  • The young Proteas star has made a superb start to Test cricket and admits "things have gone better than expected".
  • His success hasn't made him averse to still absorbing all the knowledge he can from his opponents and more experienced teammates.

Like he has been all his life, Marco Jansen has been so focused on establishing himself as an international cricketer that he hasn't even taken much notice of the ICC award he's up for.

Despite the Proteas' patchy overall form, the lanky 22-year-old has been nominated for the world governing body's Emerging Player of the Year, deserved recognition for a man who's taken to Test cricket like a duck to water.

Jansen finished the 2022's calendar year with an impressive haul of 36 wickets in just eight matches, including a superb 5/35 against England at the cauldron that is The Oval.

South Africa's pronounced struggles on their current tour to Australia - which concludes with the third Test starting in Sydney on Wednesday - haven't deterred him from making his mark.

Jansen took a wicket with his first delivery in Australia in dislodging the prolific Marnus Labuschagne during the first Test in Brisbane - finishing with 3/32 in the process - and then made a career-best 59 in Melbourne in the second Test.

In typically deadpan fashion, he wasted little time reminding everyone that his start to Test cricket, in last year's series against India, started rather inauspiciously.

READ | Gutsy Jansen implores plodding Proteas to simply show some attitude: 'We have the skills'

"It didn't start great, my first over in Test cricket went for [12]," he said.

"I haven't really thought about it yet or reflected, but it's gone way better than expected. Couldn't have asked for a better start, I guess."

Encouragingly, Jansen's early success hasn't made him any less averse to being a sponge in terms of gaining insights from his more experienced teammates.

In fact, if it hadn't been for a few words of advice from Kagiso Rabada during the Melbourne Test, he wouldn't have realised that he was in the midst of bowling an excellent spell to Steve Smith.

"KG came to me and said, 'Listen, Marco, keep going because he's not looking comfortable'. I think that was after my third over bowling to him," said Jansen.

"I didn't even realise that he was not struggling but finding it a bit challenging and only after that I could see that I should shy away, keep going, keep going, hitting the hard length.

"For me, I always try and see moments and if I see a moment, I go even harder in that moment. Whether that's with the ball, in the field or with the bat. So after KG came to me, that's when I realised that I can't just bowl a floater here, I have to keep on him because we might take a wicket."

Going harder is something Jansen says the Proteas are concentrating on despite there being no more opportunities to influence the series result.

"We have three Tests left until the final, obviously we want to win all three to give ourselves the best chance possible to get into the Test Championship final," said Jansen.

"So it's not like we are only going into this game thinking it's just another game and we cruise through it, there's still a goal, still a purpose."

The first ball on Wednesday will be bowled at 01:30 SA time.

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