Dwaine Pretorius has burst on to the domestic scene as one of the country’s most promising all-rounders.
After struggling for more than two years without a regular all-rounder, South Africa now have two. In the same team.
When SA Cricket magazine did a feature on Chris Morris and David Wiese last year, there was a perceived lack of all-rounders in the country.
Ryan McLaren fell out of favour before the 2015 World Cup in Australia and Wayne Parnell, injury-prone and a perennial under-achiever, played just one game, against India, in that tournament.
Fast forward a year later and Morris and Wiese find themselves playing in the same T20 side, making talk of a lack of all-rounders seem silly.
The next challenger on the horizon is Highveld Lions all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius, who had a good season in all three formats and harbours genuine ambitions of playing for his country one day.
But while one might expect Morris and Wiese’s elevation to deter Pretorius from his goal, he says the contrary.
‘Morris and Wiese playing together for the Proteas is a good thing,’ Pretorius tells SA Cricket mag. ‘It has undoubtedly improved the balance of the South African team, showing that it’s a good thing to have all-rounders in the set-up.’
His good season can be put down to his willingness and ability to take on more responsibility at the franchise which has seen a big improvement in his bowling.
‘I was under pressure at the beginning of the season due to Morris leaving to join the Titans and Kagiso Rabada’s involvement with the national side,’ Pretorius explains.
‘I had to take more responsibility with the ball in their absence to go from a change bowler to taking the new ball with Hardus Viljoen. I love the extra responsibility. It has definitely improved my skills set. I am very happy with how my season went.’
Like any normal player out there Pretorius would love to play for his country, but recognises that he isn’t the finished article yet, although he says he is working hard to realise his dream.
Pretorius’ coach at the Lions, Geoffrey Toyana, has been pleased with his progress and notes that he has become a good all-rounder in all three formats of the game.
‘He works very hard, Toyana says. ‘I really believe he can play for South Africa one day. He is a very strong player in white ball cricket, but he’s come through well in the Sunfoil Series and continues to improve.’
Pretorius faces some tough competition in the national set-up and Alviro Petersen, his teammate at the Lions who has seen Pretorius come through the ranks, believes he will be in direct competition with Wiese if he makes it to the national side.
‘Dwaine did really well this season, especially with the ball, but his batting must improve,’ Petersen says. ‘He has done really well taking the new ball with Hardus, but there is no chance of him doing so for South Africa. Taking the new ball is actually damaging his chances and that is why he must improve his batting.
He must contribute more with the bat because South Africa need batters who can bowl a bit. He is in the same mould as guys like Wiese and Albie Morkel. ‘He needs to perform consistently for people to start noticing him. The talent is there, but the bottom line is Dwaine will have to become a better batsman than Wiese if he wants to be make it at the highest level.’
Pretorius is fully aware of his shortcomings and agrees that he needs to contribute more with the bat. While he feels he has improved in all the formats, he particularly enjoys the four-day game.
‘Red-ball cricket is the ultimate test. It is for that reason that I enjoy it more because I can get in and play my natural game.’
This was evident in the Sunfoil Series match in Paarl between the Cape Cobras and Lions when Pretorius scored 101 from 178 balls to help save the game for his team. The Lions had been asked to follow on after being bowled out for 252 in their first innings in reply to the 570 the Cobras scored.
While he likes to be aggressive when he bats, Pretorius says he doesn’t find it difficult to reel himself in when needed, as evident by his innings in Paarl.
‘I enjoy taking my time when I bat,’ he says. ‘I will control myself when someone is bowling well, but I’m not afraid to go after the bad balls. I like that type of counter-attacking cricket.’
Pretorius says Lions bowling coach Gordon Parsons has played a vital role in his career and had a big impact on him as a bowler. ‘We spend so much time together talking about the game that people have started referring to me as his son.
‘Neil McKenzie also gave me a lot of advice when he was still here, while coach Toyana is a cool people person and very positive guy who always encourages us.’
The route to the national side usually includes a stint with the South Africa A team, which will be Pretorius’ next target.
‘It’s how most of the guys get there, but whatever the route may be that I have to take to get there, I just want to perform consistently for the Lions and win games for them.’
Former Proteas all-rounder Lance Klusener agrees with Petersen that Pretorius has a lot of potential but has his concerns.
‘He maybe just lacks a yard of pace,’ Klusener says. ‘If he can get his pace up and improve in all the other areas of his game there is always a chance but again, consistency with the bat will be key.
Dwaine probably needs another good season and then look to get into the SA A side, although if there are injuries it can happen sooner. He probably needs a 20% improvement in his game. I believe a quality all-rounder has the ability to bowl 140km/h.
Pretorius never allows himself to lose his fitness in the off season and stays active by doing more work in the gym. He will also look to again go and play some club cricket in the Netherlands towards the end of the off-season which keeps him fresh.
‘When our season gets underway, I already have about 10 matches under my belt while most other players start from scratch.’
It is that kind of dedication that bodes well as Pretorius strives for that all-important consistency in a landscape suddenly filled with up and coming all-rounders.