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Shirin Sadikot in Cape Town

Want to get back in Proteas colours: van der Merwe

Titans all-rounder wants to impress national selectors with CLT20 performance

Roelof van der Merwe is a quintessential South African sportsman. He’s aggressive on the field and amicable off it. Confident and proud while playing cricket, he’s modest and level-headed with his words. The latter aspect of van der Merwe’s personality came to the fore when he refused to read too much into his team, Titans’, unbeaten status in CLT20 2012.

“We’ve been playing good cricket but we’re only two games in. We’d like to get the net run-rate going. I wouldn’t say that we’re looking like the favourites,” the South African all-rounder told clt20.com.

Although van der Merwe doesn’t want the team to get too ahead of themselves, the Titans, along with Sydney Sixers and Lions, have looked like the teams to beat in the tournament. With crushing 59-run and 39-run victories over the Auckland Aces and the Perth Scorchers respectively, they are yet to taste defeat. In both games, van der Merwe performed his job of a tidy left-arm spinner with perfection, picking a wicket on both occasions with his economy-rate not exceeding 4.50.

While he admits that bowling on the South African tracks is harder than rolling his arm over on Indian tracks, he knows how to make the most of the conditions here as a spinner. “The Indian tracks turn more while the ones in South Africa are skiddier. So, pace variation becomes much more important here.”

Despite the challenging conditions, as the Titans take on the Kolkata Knight Riders at Newlands, van der Merwe believes spinners will play a massive role because “In general Cape Town has a slower wicket than the one in Centurion,” he said. “At the end of the day the team’s whose slower bowlers bowl the best, wins.”

While his area of expertise is left-arm spin, van der Merwe is also a handy bat in the lower-middle order. He is keen on developing his batting further to suit to the requirements of the shortest format. “In T20s you’ve got to be an all-round cricketer. I’m working on my batting very much and hopefully I can win a game for my team with the bat.”

Winning the CLT20 for the Titans is obviously a goal for van der Merwe. But the big plan is to regain his spot in the Proteas side. “I won’t be playing cricket if I don’t want to play for South Africa. I definitely want to work my way back in and I know it’s going to take hard work. Hopefully, I can do it.”

van der Merwe’s never-say-die attitude that he brings with him every time he steps on to the cricket field, earned him the nickname, ‘Bulldog’ from former Titans coach Chris van Noordwyk. All the 27-year-old has to do to don the South African colours again is live up to that sobriquet.

And just in case you started getting any wrong ideas about his personality by hearing the word Bulldog, van der Merwe would like to clear that off. “On the field there are no mates, only good competition. But I think I’m actually a good person off the field,” he said.
We couldn’t agree more, Roelof.

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