Rassie's love affair with ODI cricket, he just can't quite say why: 'Just worked out'

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Rassie van der Dussen. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Rassie van der Dussen. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

In Bloemfontein

  • Rassie van der Dussen's latest century means he averages a bewildering 71.13 in ODIs - the second highest in history - as he continues his love affair with the format.
  • More pertinently, a return to 50-over cricket has proven the perfect platform for him to regain form ahead of the rest of the domestic international season.
  • The wily right-hander can't quite pinpoint why he's so prolific in the format, but no one's complaining.

Rassie van der Dussen can't quite pinpoint why, but it's very clear that he loves 50-over cricket.

The star Proteas right-hander's superb century in Friday night's triumph over England at the Mangaung Oval - the fourth of his career - helps him maintain his bewildering numbers in the format.

Van der Dussen's career average of 71.13 is the best for any South African and second highest in the history of ODIs for players who've scored over 1 000 runs in the format.

More importantly, however, a return to the 50-over stuff has also led to the 33-year-old rekindling the type of form that's been hard to come by since returning from a finger injury on the tour of England last year.

Highest ODI averages

Shubman Gill (India) - 73.76

Rassie van der Dussen (SA) - 71.13

Ryan Ten Doeschate (Netherlands) - 67.00

Babar Azam (Pakistan) - 59.41

Virat Kohli (India) - 57.69

*Minimum 1 000 runs

So pronounced was his struggles for scores - and game-time, for that matter - that it's little wonder his resourceful if somewhat unspectacular 111 off 117 deliveries ranks as one of his favourite international knocks now.

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"Definitely one of my more satisfying experiences. Last year's injury came at a bad time for me in missing the T20 World Cup, especially after having a good one the previous year. From a mental point of view it was tough," said Van der Dussen.

"Going back into red-ball cricket was a bit imperfect. I played a few games for the Lions and then played in the Test against the Aussie at the Gabba, where the pitch was probably the same colour as this green tablecloth. It was pretty tough."

Things hardly improved when Van der Dussen was immediately pressed into action for MI Cape Town in the SA20, where he only scored 56 runs in his first five innings before a crucial 49 in Paarl seemed to signal a turnaround.

"Coming straight off the plane and playing SA20 was challenging too without any real T20 preparation. It's a skill as much as any of the other formats," he said.

"Jetlag and a lack of game-time got the best of me initially. It was frustrating, so when I got in today, the rhythm started to come back, my normal, positive, aggressive thoughts as batter were present again.

"I felt a lot more like myself again."

Still, is it the relative serenity of an ODI knock that just seems to appeal to him?

Or the fact that the format requires grafters not bothered with aesthetics, particularly on slower surfaces?

"It's difficult to say. Cricket is a game of numbers, so you're probably going to fail more than you succeed. Maybe it's just worked out that way that I succeed more often than not in the 50-over format. I love playing 50-over cricket," said Van der Dussen.

"I like doing the donkey work, like Heinrich Klaasen and I did in those conditions. It probably doesn't look glamorous to rotate the strike but it's something I really enjoy. I enjoy the fact that there's a prolonged period for one to apply that skill, especially in the middle order.

"I've worked hard on it in the last few years. I don't think there's a reason for, maybe it's just worked out that way."

Regardless, no one's complaining.

The second ODI starts at 10:00 on Sunday on a different Mangaung Oval strip.

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