19th Jan, 2024

“I’m not worried about runs or getting out. I’m just looking to….”: Ryan Rickelton

By MI Cape Town Media

We don’t need to tell you how stellar Ryan Rickelton has been in these first four matches. Okay, let us. Four fifties in a row in a T20 is a rarity, and our man’s done it while opening the batting. Here he is, after taking MICT home, talking in the post-match press conference. Excerpts .. 

Whether it’s tough opening the batting after keeping for 20 overs

When you’re giving me an opportunity to bat 20 overs in T20 cricket, it’s not tough. Thought the wicket was good, it spun a little bit. I was unsure what a good score would be on this wicket. I thought we bowled really, really well. Probably one of our better bowling performances in this tournament so far. Happy to restrict them and enjoyed being out there. I wasn’t as switched on as I should have been at the start, but glad to have gotten the team over the line. 

On being left out of the South African side against India

This summer has been a bit difficult. Getting left out of the national side took a bit of a mental hit. I have been looking for answers both on and off the field. Coming into this innings I knew I had nothing to lose. Robbie set the platform for me, to get the team off to a good start. I’m not worried about runs, I am not worried about getting out, I’m just looking to get the team off to a good start because we have such a powerhouse middle order behind us. 

On the conditions on offer and what worked for MICT

I thought we were going to bat first (laughs). But I’m glad we didn’t. This year the ball is skidding on a little bit more under lights. I thought we did really well to pull it back after Jason Roy and Jos Buttler got going. I think it was more about strong shots. You try using the angles with the smaller side, but the area where I feel we faltered in the last game was that we went bang, bang, and lost two wickets in quick succession. The emphasis thus was just to build partnerships in terms of balls, not runs, and luckily we did that today. 

On his stellar partnership with Rassie van der Dussen

The benefit of playing with Rassie is that we have played a lot for the Lions. I was a junior coming up, he was the senior. One great aspect is that we know each others’ game really well. We discuss options for each player. I know what Rassie is good at, he knows what I am good at, and we try to work that in our game. We want to be the leaders in the tournament, and are actually having fun out there. He took the mantle today even when I was stagnating a little bit. He pulled me out of it. I love batting with him, and hopefully we can continue with this for a few more weeks. 

Proving a point to the selectors?

I’m never looking to prove a point. Always frustrating, but this was a fresh start. We hadn’t played any T20 cricket so far this year for the Lions. For the first time in my career, I am not worried about getting out. I just want to create an impact. Nothing against the selectors. Enjoying my cricket, enjoying my batting, and it is a great bunch of guys. 

Is this the best he has batted in his life?

I don’t know what form is (laughs). The ball rolled with me today. I’m just trying to keep it simple. But the biggest thing is that I am not worried about getting out. If it’s kicking on, I try keeping it going. I’m enjoying my batting and enjoying being out there with Rassie. That’s the most important thing for me. 

On Kieron Pollard, the captain

I’m sure you can see it on the field, he takes the game by the scruff of the neck. He is the most experienced T20 player in the world. It would be foolish not to listen to him. He has played against everyone. He was calm. He didn’t get frustrated when we were under the pump early on. He is a great head to have in the team. He has seen it all. Nothing is ever going to surprise him. The way he thinks about the game is to keep a calm head and execute your skills. A lot of captains could have gone the other way when we were under the pump. He is massive for us. 

On the Newlands crowd

The crowd has been phenomenal. We love seeing the Blue wave. The ground was packed on Tuesday, and we expected the same on Friday night. We owed them a win, especially at Newlands. Grateful that we could do that. Great to see everyone wearing blue, especially the kids. 

Thoughts going on in his head after getting dropped early on in the innings 

I was looking forward a bit too much early on in my innings, I was moving too late and my head was moving. Rassie mentioned it to me. He told me that if I could get one away, you would get another one away and the whole game changes. The first shot wasn’t a great one. Had Mitch hung on to that, I wouldn’t have been disappointed. Just emphasizing, I’m trying to be really still, and if the ball is in my area, I’m going to go after it. 

On batting with Connor Esterhuizen

Connor is a very good player. Not a lot of players know about him because he bats behind me for the Lions. I see him training every day, I see how hard he works, I see the skills he works on. Great to see him have a platform to showcase it. He’s still a little bit nervous, I can see it. He needs a bit of nudging. I think he’s doing himself proud. Great to have him out there for the winning runs. He’s a player who’s going to go a long way. 

What to expect in the reverse fixture at Paarl

I’m expecting it to turn. Day games at Paarl are always tough. The crowd is abusive towards the opposition. Hopefully we can take a bit of momentum. We need to adjust, it is a big ground. We need to see how the wicket will be. It will be about adapting and accepting that 140 or 160 is a good total. Getting another four points on Sunday will be great going into the next week.

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