With the current domestic cricket season coming to a premature end due to the coronavirus pandemic, Dolphins batting star Grant Roelofsen is hoping to improve on the stellar season he has enjoyed when the new 2020-21 season starts at the back end of the year.
In his first full season for the Dolphins, Roelofsen has become a mainstay at the top of the order and his versatility to open the batting in red-ball and white-ball cricket as well as keep wicket in fifty-over cricket has been a revelation for the Dolphins.
This season he racked up 575 runs in seven first-class games at an average of 44, which included three hundreds and one fifty. His three centuries was the most by any player in the competition.
In 50-over cricket he finished the One-Day Cup as the competition’s leading run-scorer with 588 in 10 innings at an average of 65. He scored five fifties and one hundred in the 10 innings he played with a top score of 147 not out.
Despite the relative ease he has shown at the top of the order, he was thrust into the role when he started playing for the Dolphins.
‘I knew that opening the batting was my route into the side,’ the 23-year-old said. ‘There was a slight fear of the unknown, I guess, but I was just really excited to play for the Dolphins and I knew that opening the batting would get me an extended run in the side.
‘Although I hadn’t opened before when I trained it helped my mind-set change and it gave me a taste of what I needed to do so I felt prepared.’
It has been a watershed season for Roelofsen who has caught the attention of many cricket pundits. From SA Schools cricket, to SA U19, to semi-professional cricket to franchise cricket, it has been a patient journey for him but by all accounts he is here to stay.
‘If you had told me before the season that this is how I would have performed I would have been happy with that. I don’t think I blew it out the water at all and I set high standards for myself,’ he added candidly.
‘I want to go all the way and be one of the best in the world and I feel that if I keep following this path and train hard and play well then I can do that.’
The Dolphins side showed a fairly drastic about turn when the new year dawned as they won two of their three 4-Day Franchise Series matches with a draw in the other and won seven of their ten One Day Cup clashes.
Roelofsen believes that the side has found a good blend both on and off the field.
‘Chatting to guys in the side that have been there for a number of years the team dynamic is the best it’s been. There is a new and refreshing energy in the side and a lot of us are friends away from cricket. I think the biggest change has been that we have all bought into the same idea and the whole team is pulling in the same direction,’ he added.
A first season at franchise level for Roelofsen has been a big learning curve, but he has managed to highlight areas earmarked as the most important.
‘People tell you that it is a step up, but I think the biggest change is how much more demanding it is than semi-professional cricket,’ he mentioned.
‘Travelling every week takes it out of you and the demands physically and mentally are also things that you learn to deal with along the way. I don’t think I was as prepared for the demands of the travel as I could have been.’
Roelofsen is in the unique position that he is a wicket-keeper and an opening batsman. In the longer version of the game he feels it’s going to take its toll but he will fill any role that the team needs him to.
‘To keep wicket and opening the batting in four-day cricket is really demanding physically and mentally and I don’t think that I quite committed 100% to either, which is a problem,’ he concluded.
‘In 50-over cricket I commit fully to both roles because the demands aren’t quite as high but I haven’t made any decisions about my keeping and will have to chat to the coaches about that going forward. At the end of the day if the team needs me to do I will.’
Photo: Gallo Images