Grant Roelofsen setting sights high after memorable season in Essex

·3-min read
In stunning form - Grant Roelofsen Picture: TGS PHOTOS
In stunning form - Grant Roelofsen Picture: TGS PHOTOS

GRANT Roelofsen arrived unknown, but in two short weeks has kicked up a storm for Essex in the Royal London Cup.

Now he hopes his series of reliably consistent batting performances gain traction back home in South Africa.

The Johannesburg-born right-hander started the summer playing for Billericay in Division One of the Essex League.

But his availability brought him to the attention of the county when they were looking to supplement their weakened squad for the 50-over competition.

Roelofsen has responded with 205 runs in four innings, batting at number four, with an average of 68 at a strike-rate marginally below 100 and a highest score of 77.

More importantly, his unruffled approach has helped Essex overcome several middle-order collapses to post match-winning totals, most notably in the last two games against Kent and Glamorgan.

“I’m absolutely loving it,” said the 26-year-old.

“I definitely didn’t come over with the idea of playing for Essex.

"I suppose it’s been right place at the right time and probably doing well at the right time too.

“I was lucky enough that Essex saw a bit of a gap, an opportunity for me, firstly in the second XI, now in the firsts, and I ended up doing quite nicely.”

He may have been an unknown in the UK before his sudden emergence in the one-day cup at the start of August, but his CV includes two List A centuries, and more than a dozen half-centuries.

He has caps for South Africa schools, under-19s and, more recently, the ‘emerging men’ squad; now he wants to break through into the senior national team, whether in red or white-ball cricket.

“I’d like to think that people back home are aware of what I’m doing here,” he said

“I don’t know a professional cricketer whose ambition is not to play international cricket.

"That’s the pinnacle and that’s where you get tested at the highest level.

“The ambition is still there to play for South Africa – and it’s definitely a realistic ambition to my mind – but whether I’m close enough is probably up to other people to decide.

"The way I see it is that runs are the only currency, and if you keep scoring runs then they can’t ignore you for ever.

“I’ve done quite nicely back at home in white-ball cricket the last couple of years, so I would like to think I’m in the mix.

"Hopefully it can be another case of right place, right time and I can smash those doors down.

“But I definitely don’t discount my first-class record. I wouldn’t go and box myself off into a [particular] format.”

Having played three second team matches for Essex before his whirlwind leap into the first team,

Roelofsen is ideally placed to assess the up-and-coming players starting to make an impact at senior level.

“Essex have talent in abundance,” said Roelofsen.

“There are a lot of guys here, some of whom haven’t cracked it yet, who I’m sure will push this team forward.

Look at guys like Luc [Benkenstein] and Jamal [Richards], they are only 17 and 18, but they are doing really well at this level. I am sure they will move the standard even higher.”

Essex face Yorkshire at Chelmsford today seeking a third successive win to improve hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Royal London Cup.

Should they reach the final on September 17, it might force Roelofsen to push back his departure date by a fortnight before returning to prepare for the South African domestic season with KwaZulu-Natal and Dolphins.

“I’ve absolutely loved my time here," said Roelofsen.

"The people I’ve met, the teams I’ve played for, I’ve had so much fun – and I think that’s the most important part of cricket.”

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