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CWC 2023 | South Africa Rassie van der Dussen pre-match press conference ahead of New Zealand clash

Rassie-van-der-Dussen-31-10-23

[Reporter:]

South Africa haven't beaten New Zealand at a World Cup since 1999. Five losses on the trot since then? I know you were only part of one. But has there been any chat within the team about why that could be and how you guys want to rectify that?

Rassie van der Dussen

It feels like that question could have been asked a few days ago as well - with regards to Pakistan. So no, no chat really about that. I mean, that's all in the past. We don't really carry any of that with us. Tomorrow is a new game. Two pretty strong teams on form going against each other. So, it should be a really good day.

[Reporter:]

Just personally, how have you found the World Cup in your own form? Are you pleased with where you're at?

Rassie van der Dussen

Yeah, I would say I'm relatively pleased. I've had innings or two where I've contributed. And I think the really positive thing about our batting lineup at the moment is different guys are contributing. Obviously, Quinny is leading run scorer and Aiden is right there. But around them we've had different people contributing in different times and that's really reassuring for us as a batting unit to know that on different days, different guys might fill up different roles and carry the responsibility. But yeah, I'm reasonably pleased that as we hopefully go into the business end of the tournament now, you want to be really at 100%. I think most of our guys are in a pretty good space.

[Reporter:]

I realise it's part of the process that you take things one day at a time and one game at a time. But is there a thought somewhere that this tomorrow's game is about who plays who in the semis?

Rassie van der Dussen

None at all. I think the beauty of this World Cup has been that there's been some upsets. It's really difficult to predict who's going to be there and how the results are going to unfold. So certainly, in our camp, there's no real chat about it. We really have been good in taking it one game at a time and it's no different for tomorrow. It's, there’s a much stronger focus on focusing on our processes and how we want to go about that. We've fallen short at times and we've been really good at times. And sort of shutting out all the World Cup permutation, if I can call it that, we've been really good at.

[Reporter:]

You guys have spoken quite a lot about not carrying baggage, you're talking about things like not beating teams since 99 or whatever, but how do you actually do that when people mention it to you? Do you just ignore stuff or how do you actually not carry the baggage?

Rassie van der Dussen

No, I suppose it's about just acknowledging and accepting it. After that Dutch game, we took a lot of flak from back home and certainly in the media as well. There's no use in delving too much into it. You've just got to accept it and move on. From our side, you realise that there's people at home and fans that's been really scarred by previous performances of South Africa and World Cups. And you can't really criticize them for feeling that way, for criticism to come from, I suppose, a place of hurt where they've seen that movie before. But personally, and I think it goes for about probably most of the people in our squad and management team, that we haven't lived that. So, it's not really applicable to us. It's not something that's obviously watching growing up is things that happen and they love replaying the scenes whenever we take the field and that's fine. But it's really not something that's affecting us, it's part of history but it's certainly not part of us as a team.

[Reporter:]

Do you as a side take any inspiration from the Springboks?

Rassie van der Dussen

Massively. We were all watching it at 2.30 in the morning. The final, actually the previous three games, we were all there in the team room watching. We take massive inspiration from them, massive learnings, and lessons from them as a team, how they go about what they do, what they stand for, the purpose they play for. And I think Siya mentioned it in a press conference that if you're not from South Africa, you don't really understand what it means or what sporting achievements mean for the people at home and for us. So, we definitely take massive inspiration from that.

We know a lot of those players personally as well. A lot of the guys in the team knows - has friends that plays in that team and to see what they're able to achieve is just really inspirational. And I think the real realization for us is that we’re no different. Yes, we haven't won World Cups, but if we do manage to get there at some time, at some stage, it will be really an honour for us to be mentioned in the same sentence of those guys.

[Reporter:]

Temba mentioned that you guys have a template when you when you bat first and you don't really have a template for un chases. Could you just expand on that and explain to the layman what exactly is that template when you bat first and what needs to happen when you bat second?

Rassie van der Dussen

I think, yes, we have a “blueprint” in inverted commas, but it's about fundamentals of building a 50-over innings. It's been big for us to set the base at the top and really give guys like Markram and David [Miller] the platform to be at their most destructive. And that's something that's been working well for us. And the challenge is for us to emulate that when we're batting second. We did, obviously against Netherlands, we didn't manage that. The other night we managed it at stages. But I think to see it in that sense, it's almost a positive for us because we've been so good at batting first. Once or twice that you don't get the chase right, then it gets highlighted. Whereas if you look at the past 18 to 24 months we've actually chased pretty well. So, yeah, I suppose that people are always going to look for the negatives and that's fine. But yeah, I suppose the challenge for us is to emulate what we do batting first when there's a score to chase.

[Reporter:]

You were there in 2019 and it was quite a different situation, the same stage back then and now. I was just wondering what's sort of - is there anything different within this group, maybe like, you know, psychologically or whatever it might be? Is there something different from now than it was then?

Rassie van der Dussen

Yeah, I think there's definitely something different. I think the situations we faced in the past four years, whether it be COVID, whether it be Black Lives Matter, SJN, various political stories that we've had back home and had to manage as a team has really forced us to pull together as a team. That's the one aspect.

And really, I suppose, the effect of us being really tight off the field as well, really knowing each other intimately. And the other fact is, as a group, we've been actually playing together a very long time. If you look at this -  almost between any two members of the squad, there's a real connection. You can find some sort of connection somewhere. If you look at the batters, we've been batting together for a long time. If you look at, for example, Quinny and KG, they've been playing together since young. Same with Temba, same with myself, Reeza. So, I think there's definitely something different in this team. Of course, when you're in it, I suppose you just, you do feel it. And I think we're blessed in a sense that we're in a great space now. We've had to deal with quite a lot of controversy over the last three years. So that's really put us in good stead.

[Reporter:]

You spoke about the chase aspect of the matches and I want to go back to that Pakistan match without sounding negative, as you said, did that match kind of expose any change for you or come as a kind of a wake-up call to shake up from - because you have been doing so well until that point of time?

Rassie van der Dussen

I think we're not happy with our performance as a batting unit and as a batting collective. What is a positive that we didn't play our best cricket at all, especially from a batting sense, and we still managed to get a win, and that's always a positive. If you look at the Springboks, how they especially won against England, it was pretty scrappy, but they got across the line and for us, that's a similar result against Pakistan. So, we know we are a lot better than that. We know we want to be a lot more clinical in a chasing situation. It's very clear to us where we went wrong and the mistakes, we made so we're not shying away from that. And it gives us confidence knowing that we still got over the line and when we do get in that position again, hopefully the decision that we make and the options we take will be a lot better.

[Reporter:]

You're getting asked about the Springboks a lot, but you spoke about CSA, if you're not South African, you don't understand what it means. And we've seen a lot of ads where the boks are dedicating their performances to their hometowns, their grandparents, whatever. If you have to speak from your heart, what does it mean? How can you explain to other people what does it mean when you are South African to represent the country that you represent?

Rassie van der Dussen

I think for me, obviously coming from a very divided background in the last 70 to 100 years, those sort of mindsets are still quite entrenched in a lot of communities and a lot of older generations. I think what the Springboks and what sport shows us is that as a country, as South Africa, when you do get things right and you do things the right way and what you can achieve, end of the day I think good things happen to good people. And that Springbok team, that's what they are. They're all hardworking, good South Africans with a real humility about them, a real hunger for success. And for me, it just certainly shows that when you're willing to put differences aside, what's possible for a country like ours.

[Reporter:]

I sort of want to ask you about your role, as far as the batting blueprint's concerned, do you think that you've been cast in the role of doing the dirty work and the work that you don't often necessarily get thanked for? You sort of set it up for [Heinrich] Klassen to monster it at the end and David [Miller] and whatever, and your job is to make it that time, see if the new ball absorbs pressure and nobody really says thank you for that.

Rassie van der Dussen

Yeah, I think myself, Quin and Tim often joke about it, saying the reason Klaasen and the guys get millions at IPL, because they can come in and hit sixes at the back. But it's is a role that needs to be done, and from my side and other guys as well, we're really happy to be doing it. In our team, there's a sense of - what's the word I'm looking for? English, not my first language.

It's amazing to see what you can achieve when it doesn't matter who gets the credit or when you don't care who gets the credit for getting the win or getting over the line or putting in a good performance. So, there's a real sense of that in our team. And if that's going to help us win matches and win the World Cup, then I'll be happy not to be thanked for that.

 

Cricket, Proteas, SA Sports News, CWC 2023

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