Christiaan Jonker believes he has the ability to finish off games in the No 5 or 6 position in the Proteas side, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
The 31-year-old has been fantastic for the Warriors over the last few years. His performances in white ball cricket earned him a call-up to the Proteas T20 side against India in Cape Town in February. Once selected, Jonker showed his big-hitting quality by scoring 49 off 24 balls (five fours, two sixes) on debut, his only performance in the green and gold.
The selectors have placed their trust in the Warriors man by naming him in the ODI squad for the series against Zimbabwe, a team he respects, starting on 30 September.
‘It’s good to hear I’m back in the squad again,’ Jonker told SACricketmag.com. ‘Obviously, I played against India and it was very exciting and nerve-racking. But it’s good to know that all the performances I’ve put in consistently for the Warriors have paid off. I’m happy to just be part of the Proteas squad.
‘I have a lot of respect for Zimbabwe so I will approach it like any team. I can’t just go out there from ball No 1 and think “it’s just Zimbabwe, you can hit them out the park”. You still have to play your normal game and assess the situation, the conditions, give yourself time and then make an impact at the end of the game. You have to play your own game.’
With the Proteas reiterating that they will be experimenting with the side, they are aiming to leave no stone unturned leading up to the 2019 World Cup.
Giving a player with the finishing quality Jonker possesses a chance is a positive move by the selectors heading into the World Cup, as they search for players who can play the attacking brand of cricket they believe will bring the World Cup home for South Africa.
‘The last time we spoke, Ottis Gibson said he was happy with the way I play, and the attacking brand that I play and the way I can take games away from the opposition,’ Jonker added.
‘In general, they like the way I play, and I just want to continue playing the way I play for the Warriors and for other teams, because that’s what got me to the Proteas squad.’
The No 6 role is a specialist position on its own, and the Proteas have trusted the likes of Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller in this role in recent times. They have now thrown Jonker into the mix to assess what he can bring in the role.
‘I don’t know what the batting order will be, but I’m very comfortable batting 5 or 6,’ Jonker said about his prospects in the batting lineup. ‘We will see once I’m in the team, but the way I see it is I’m going to bat in the middle order, coming in and finishing games off for them.’
Before he begins his ODI duties with the national side, Jonker is first taking part in the Africa Cup as he aims to build momentum leading up to the Zimbabwe series.
‘I want to do well for Border and to get into the semi-final. That’s my main aim because I believe we deserve to win a trophy,’ says Jonker.
‘We haven’t had a lot of time to practise or have time in the middle during the off-season to have proper batting practice, but I’m going to utilise this tournament to work on my skills and improve my game. I want to make sure that when I get to the Proteas all my cylinders are firing for the task that presents itself.’
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