Janneman Malan. (Photo by Seb Daly/Gallo Images)
- Red-hot Proteas opener Janneman Malan never thought about possibly breaking Gary Kirsten’s record for the highest individual score for the side.
- The 25-year-old smashed an unbeaten 177 in Friday’s third and final ODI against Ireland, prompting some to wonder whether he might’ve missed out on an opportunity to eclipse that achievement.
- Instead, Malan is just focusing on playing his natural game in his quest to become a first-choice member of the squad.
When the dust settled somewhat after Janneman Malan had strolled to his magnificent, unbeaten 177 in Friday’s final ODI against Ireland, some might’ve wondered whether he’d missed out on an opportunity to make history.
The 25-year-old opener’s effort is the Proteas’ fourth highest individual score in the 50-over format though his eventual strike rate of 104 suggested he might’ve challenged Gary Kirsten’s record of 188 against the UAE in the 1996 World Cup had he accelerated a tad faster.
Yet that’s not how the calm Boland star operates.
“No, I never really thought about (breaking the record),” Malan said after his innings inspired South Africa to a 70-run win that helped them finish the three-match series one-all.
“I don’t know. Some batters will tell you that sometimes you’re just in the zone, in the moment. I believe it’s called the ‘flow state’ and I was definitely in it.
“I was just watching the ball and playing everything on its merits. Maybe next time (I’ll think of the record).”
Indeed, the dashing right-hander has bigger things to focus on – like becoming the Proteas’ first-choice opener in the limited overs formats.
And, by all accounts, he’s now earned himself the right to stake that claim.
Friday’s knock means Malan now averages an incredible 120.75 in his six innings to date, which include two centuries and two fifties.
His recipe is simple.
Proteas’ top five individual scores in ODIs
188* (159) – Gary Kirsten v UAE, Rawalpindi 1996
185 (141) – Faf du Plessis v Sri Lanka, Cape Town 2017
178 (113) – Quinton de Kock v Australia, Centurion 2016
177* (169) – Janneman Malan v Ireland, Malahide 2021
176 (104) – AB de Villiers v Bangladesh, Paarl 2017
“At this level, you just never know how many games you’re going to get. I just made it clear to myself mentally that if I’m not going to play regularly, I’ll make sure that every time I do get to the crease, I’ll go out on my own terms,” said Malan.
“I’ll never play in desperation for my spot, because then you’re just going to make it difficult for yourself anyway.
“So I just let go. I just do what I do and do it the best I can. If that’s not good enough, then I can deal with that. I’ll go out on my own terms.”
Mark Boucher, the Proteas’ head coach, noted Malan isn’t only making the national selection panel’s job noticeably more difficult but also attests to the side expanding it’s pool of depth.
“He got some opportunities last season and he’s done really well,” said the legendary South African wicketkeeper.
“Now we’re in a situation where the depth is becoming quite big and Janneman is showing that. He’s taking those opportunities.
“We rested Quinny (de Kock) for the first two games and Janneman came in and scored 84. Then he gets an opportunity to bat with Quinny and I think he would’ve learnt a helluva lot, smashing the ball to all parts.
“He’s certainly putting up his hand. It’s a good headache to have.”