back icon


Marco Jansen, now an indispensable part of the Proteas unit

Last updated on 21 Oct 2023 | 05:17 PM
Google News IconFollow Us
Marco Jansen, now an indispensable part of the Proteas unit

There might have been doubts over his ability as an all-rounder, but not anymore

South African cricketers rarely become famous in India before their international debut. They do only if they have played in the Indian Premier League (IPL) anyway, but the Jansen brothers were exposed to the Indian crowd pretty early on. 

Back then, Marco Jansen was only 17. 

He wasn’t even a regular net bowler, but the left-arm pacer had put on a show that made the headlines in India. That was perhaps his first introduction to many hardcore Indian cricket fans. 

It was always Jansen’s bowling that took precedence and the limelight; it was never his batting. Until his debut in 2021, his First-Class numbers reflected that, with a batting average of 23 and just five fifties across 31 innings. But there were also seven ducks, a sign that his batting wasn’t the level one hoped for. 

While there were hopes that this potential would turn into a thing one day, all eyes were fixated on his bowling. With the ball, the left-arm pacer picked up 67 wickets, averaging 22, and was always the talk of the town. 

You would naturally think his numbers may be slightly better in other formats. With the bat in T20s, he averaged 8.88. Even if his numbers were better in List A with the bat, an average of 37.33, you still wouldn’t trust him to translate that into international cricket at No.8. 

Forget No.7.

At some point, it had to change. But when, where and how - were some questions that needed an answer, and at some point, they were questions that couldn’t have been avoided in any circumstance whatsoever. 

Since his international debut, there were further signs of Jansen improving his batting, with an average of 21.27 in Tests and a high score of 59, soaking in all the pressure. But there was never that ‘I have the dog in me’ kind of performance. 

Turning up for the Sunrisers Eastern Cape, Jansen finally lived up to his reputation of being an “all-rounder”. It was a tournament which saw the right-handed batter play some outrageous shots against some outrageous bowling units. 

Barring three innings in the entire tournament, the all-rounder had double-digit scores on six occasions, including a monumental 66 off 27, an innings that will always be remembered as that innings which changed the outlook of Jansen - the batter. 

To give a context, the bowling attack that Jansen faced was like - Sam Curran, Jofra Archer, Kagiso Rabada, George Linde, Rashid Khan and Odean Smith. The score was 91/5, and the run-chase had lost some steam, with 81 runs to win with less than eight overs remaining. 

You see how it is stacked up against Jansen. He was in a position where none would have taken notice had he failed, but his scoring meant that his stocks would improve multi-fold. All he had to do was showcase his potential with the bat. On that night alone, he had hit seven sixes. Not just that, four of those seven sixes came against Rashid. 

The other three against Rabada, in a game that Jansen had turned single-handedly with the bat in his hand, scoring a 27-ball 66. 

That was the moment. He no longer had a dog in him, he was that dog. Jansen ended the tournament with 177 runs, averaging 44.25, with a strike-rate of 150, with nine fours and 14 SIXES

That moment changed it all. 


“It was pretty difficult for me to get the hang of the pitch. From thereon, I decided to take the game on,” Jansen said after South Africa’s crushing win over England. 

Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Travis Head, Steve Smith, Dasun Shanaka, Jonny Bairstow and Marcus Stoinis

You might be wondering what’s this list of players and how they are even connected to Jansen in the first place. All of them have scored fewer runs than Jansen in ODIs this year. That’s in no way to say that these are all inferior players, but it is to say that Jansen’s batting has improved to a level wherein he’s no more a walkover kind of batter. 

Until Saturday’s (October 21) clash against England, Jansen had scored 296 runs without a half-century to show. Milestones aren’t too important, but sometimes they are the hallmark of true potential. 

At 243/5, South Africa found themselves in a slight spot of bother. They were well ahead of the game on a placid surface in Mumbai, but a bunch of wickets curtailed the run-scoring. It was a situation where South Africa could have easily collapsed to a total of well under 300. It was a situation where South Africa’s lack of batting depth would have made the headline. 

But Jansen said, ‘not today’. 

“The discussion was just to “bat normally” and keep the intensity high and positive. After the 42nd over, we were in a decent position to take the game forward. In the next two overs, we started taking on,” he said on his partnership with Klaasen. 

“I knew I had the capability, but it was about doing it on the big stage with a calm head. My head is always spinning at a hundred miles per hour, so it was good for it to be calm. That’s what I wanted,” he added. 

Jansen used his ‘calm’ head and height perfectly, with shots all over the park, including smashing the speedster Mark Wood over the off-side field. His tall levers were used to put the leg-side deliveries outside the boundary rope and the wide outside off-stump deliveries to the boundary rope. 

It didn’t matter who the bowler was; all that the tall right-hander cared about were the angles, where he could find boundaries without much risk. 

On the day, it is easy for Jansen’s innings to be second-best to Klaasen’s, but the fact remains that if not for the all-rounder’s contribution, the match wouldn’t have panned out the way South Africa would have hoped for. 

“Next level (Jansen's knock). This award needs to go to him (Jansen). He kept me going and pumped me up saying you are not leaving the ground without a 100. He has been phenomenal, has been batting so well. The runs he scored were so vital for us,” Klaasen said raving about Jansen at the post-match presentation. 

Oh, just by the way, the all-rounder averages 61 in the tournament, with a strike-rate of 127.1. 


Amidst all this chaos, it is easy to forget what Jansen does best. During the series against Australia not too long ago, there were serious doubts about whether the left-armer would hit any form at the ODI World Cup. 

There were even talks of him not being good enough. Now, when you hear that sentence, it makes you wonder, what on earth are we thinking? 

Jansen has the most wickets in the powerplay (six) this World Cup. His average (16.7) is third-best for any bowler in the powerplay (min 10 overs). No bowler in the powerplay this World Cup has struck as consistently as the South African (17). 

Maybe there will be a day when we will talk about his bowling, but for now, Jansen’s batting has clearly proven that South Africa’s batting depth is in safe hands. 

Safe to say Jansen is the best No.7 that the 2023 ODI World Cup has seen.

Related Article