- Janneman Malan, named the ICC's Emerging Men's player of the year, might take his game very seriously, but off the field he's quite the joker.
- Proteas skipper Temba Bavuma labels the opener a "good guy" who tends to laugh at his own jokes more than his team-mates.
- Malan highlights the benefit of being able to draw on the experiences of his two brothers and fellow professionals, Pieter and Andre.
With 769 runs in just 13 innings at ODI level at an average of 69 as well as the ICC's Emerging Men’s Cricketer of the Year award in the bag, Proteas opener Janneman Malan seems to be taking his game pretty seriously.
And while that may be true when he has a bat in his hand, it's not quite the case when he's in the changeroom or team hotel.
"Off the field, Janneman's a nice guy to have around," said Temba Bavuma, South Africa's white-ball skipper.
"He's always bubbly and making jokes. He actually thinks they're funny...
"But he's a good guy. Janneman is a guy that you'd want in your team any day."
Congratulations to Janneman Malan on receiving the ICC Emerging Men’s Cricketer of the Year in the 2021 ICC Awards?? Malan boasts 715 runs in 17 international matches at an average of 47.66 and a strike rate of 101.85, with two centuries and three half-centuries.#BePartOfIt pic.twitter.com/OUmcIjOW7w— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) January 23, 2022
Neatly, the timing of the ICC's announcement meant that the Proteas could celebrate their momentous 3-0 series whitewash of India along with their 25-year-old batter's accolade.
"I didn't actually know he was announced as the winner, but I'll definitely share a beer with him to acknowledge and celebrate that," said Bavuma.
"Janneman is an amazing talent on the field. He's really set the world scene alight with his performances."
Malan himself was humility personified in responding to his award, specifically highlighting a support system of family, friends and "everyone behind the scenes" to whom he "can't thank enough".
A particular benefit is having two brothers, Pieter - who's played four Tests and captained SA 'A' against their Indian counterparts late last year - and Andre, who are both professional players.
"I'm lucky in that regard. They understand the mindset you're in, particularly when the struggles come," said Malan.
"You can also learn from each other's successes and failure. It's a good reference point and just someone to touch base with. Sometimes we don't even have to say much. We all know we support each other."
Malan, who swayed the ICC's judges with cracking efforts of 177* against Ireland and then a brilliant 121 against Sri Lanka away from home, added that while accolades aren't the be-all and end-all for a cricketer, it's a form of validation.
"Every cricketer wants to be recognised. In fact, I think every player that makes it to international level deserves some form of it simply because they made it to here," he said.
"The award goes to me, but it couldn't have been done without others. I'm just excited to get out on the park for the rest of the year."