The uncapped Dwaine Pretorius to determined to challenge all-rounders Chris Morris and Wayne Parnell for a berth in South Africa’s ODI XI this month.
Pretorius has been named in a relatively new-look squad for 25 September’s one-off fixture against Ireland at Willowmoore Park in Benoni, and is eager to capitalise on a lengthy stretch of solid form continued during South Africa A’s tour of Australia in August.
While opportunities with the bat were far and few between in Mackay and Townsville, where the visitors battled strong opposition in India A, Australia A and a National Performance Squad outfit, the hard-hitting all-rounder proved characteristically impressive at the crease prior to the tour.
July’s quickfire 89 against Zimbabwe A in Harare, March’s commanding 118 against the Titans in Centurion, and three other first-class centuries, epitomise the talent of a man sporting a burgeoning List-A average of 37.88.
‘I really think there is an opportunity for a certain type of all-rounder to make his mark. There is the chance for me to put the serious players, like Chris and Wayne, under pressure, if I can score runs and take wickets consistently. Instead of everyone perceiving me as a bowling all-rounder, they will start to see me as a proper all-rounder,’ Pretorius tells SA Cricket Magazine.
‘I like to be in a position where I can try and win a game for a side. If that happens to be with the bat, then I back to myself to do so. I really believe I have a lot to offer with the bat. I performed well, under pressure, with the Lions with the bat last season – and the same with the ball. I’d like my batting to be as consistent as my bowling.’
Morris is among Pretorius’ leading role models. The pair boast a sincere friendship and were roommates for three years prior to the Titans kingpin’s departure north in April last year. Their relationship has, effectively, come full circle – as the friendly rivalry enjoyed at the Lions resumes in the Proteas set-up.
‘The Lions’ new goals came into effect just as Chris left. If you looked at the balance of the side, with Morris in the side, I probably would have been the guy to miss out. Him leaving was sad in a personal regard, but in cricketing terms, I’m actually very fortunate that he left. That opened up a spot for an all-rounder and luckily I got the opportunity to fill that role. Gladly, I did it well. It has been a great thing, him leaving, for my career,’ insists Pretorius.
‘At the end of the day, Chris is a great player. He has had a few good performances for South Africa. But I don’t worry about other players, I just try keep my basics and processes in check, as I can control those. I try to perform consistently and well. If the captain or the coach want to give me a chance, that’s great, but I don’t really compete personally with other team-mates. I try to better myself at every chance – and hopefully in the long run, that will get me into the team that I want to play for.’
Lions bowling coach Gordon Parsons has suggested Pretorius will eventually become a genuine fast bowler. While that Kagiso Rabada- or Dale Steyn-esque pace wasn’t necessarily on display in Australia, the brisk right-armer cherished the challenge provided by pitches not dissimilar to those found in South Africa, particularly the Highveld.
‘The tracks in Mackay and Townsville were not completely different conditions for me. We played on a few wickets that were slow and seamed a bit. We had a good variation of wickets. While it was the same pitches, for the most part, they were prepared differently – some flatter, some slower. There were plenty of lessons to be taken on those pitches, on how to cope with the pressure. The margins for error are a lot smaller, with the step up from domestic cricket, and I’m really happy with how I coped with that pressure,’ enthuses Pretorius.
The 27-year-old Pretorius has not been included in the squad for October’s ODIs against Australia in Johannesburg, Durban and beyond. South Africa A teammate Andile Phehlukwayo, seven years Pretorius’ junior, though, has been selected for this important five-match affair against the current No 1 ODI team.
‘Andile is a young player and, to get this opportunity at such a young age, is great. Hopefully he can do really well and grow some more from there. I don’t look too far forward for my career. I’m just glad to have the opportunity for the Ireland ODI at the moment. To get a place in a squad for a one-off fixture is a good starting point. What happens after the Ireland match, well, we will see. Hopefully, my preparation and performances will be enough to get me involved in further international tours and home series,’ concludes Pretorius.
Written by Jonhenry Wilson, a freelance cricket writer for ESPNCricinfo among others.
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/Backpage Pix