Kolkata Knight Riders v Somerset, CLT20, Hyderabad September 25, 2011

No stopping confident van der Merwe

Roelof van der Merwe didn't hold back in this innings but there was no desperation in his game
27

At times, a batsman takes so much control over the flow of a game that even a partisan crowd is stunned into silent acceptance of an inevitable defeat. That moment arrived in the tenth over of Somerset's chase when Roelof van der Merwe, who had already brutalised his way to 62 off 30, got a bouncer from Jacques Kallis.

van der Merwe's response was to arch back and guide it over the wicketkeeper. He ended up playing the shot so delicately that the ball went to the fine leg boundary. There was a gasp from the crowd as it realised decisively that Kolkata Knight Riders had run into a batsman so confident in his approach that there was no stopping him.

It was that kind of innings from van der Merwe. He is usually not one to hold back but there is also, almost always, a sense of desperation to his hitting. He didn't hold back today either but importantly, the desperation was absent. From the moment he came in, there was a sense that he was going to go after the bowling, and that he was going to get away with it. This made him even more dangerous, as he managed to inflict irreversible damage by the time he was dismissed in the 14th over.

In the second-wicket partnership of 105 between van der Merwe and Peter Trego, Trego's contribution was 23. He didn't need to anything other than get van der Merwe at the right end. The first four overs of the stand, all against spin, went for 43 with van der Merwe finding the boundary seven times. Gautam Gambir even brought Brett Lee back for an over but by then van der Merwe had gathered too much steam to be reined in.

He later admitted that the knock was much more than his usual frenetic cameos. "I felt that it was one of my more controlled innings upfront," he said. He is aware of the active role he has to play at No.3 in the absence of Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler and gave it everything.

Whatever the Knight Riders threw at him, the boundaries just kept coming. He played the late cut, he drove over cover, he whipped over midwicket, he even reverse-swept for six. That last shot brought a playful intervention from his captain Alfonso Thomas at the media briefing. "Don't encourage him," Thomas told a reporter who asked van der Merwe how he had managed to play the shot. "It was maybe just a rush of blood to upset the field a bit; luckily it worked but won't be playing it too much," van der Merwe said.

When the deft upper cut was mentioned, van der Merwe said with a straight face that he was "just trying to get out of the way" of the ball. But the joke was on the Knight Riders. After a flowing 40 against them four days ago, van der Merwe had again managed to hurt them, for the second game running.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JG2704 on September 27, 2011, 19:54 GMT

    JUICE - Maybe I'll get out of my armchair one day. Maybe I'll look at the train timetable next year to see how doable it is. Don't most of the T20s sell out though?

  • Juiceoftheapple on September 27, 2011, 14:05 GMT

    With Kies and Buttler back we're less reliant on Trego and RVDM. Compo's also doing well. You can buy a ticket online the day before a game and print it at home, hop on a train to Taunton, sit back and enjoy 6 hours of quality cricket. Simple.

  • JG2704 on September 27, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    JUICE... There are 2 things that put me off actually attending live games. 1 is that I hate travelling on public transport (as I don't drive) and 2 is that the weather - esp over recent years - is so unpredictable in the summer and I'd hate to buy tickets , travel tickets etc only to have the game rained off. Lame I know but I'm not flush with money. LG is from nearby. I'm not sure about RVDM in the 4 day comp , but I'd definitely have him ahead of Pollard - he'll probably fail miserably now I've said that. If MK doesn't play for Somerset next season , how about a quality bowler for the 4 day game and bring back Ponting alongside RVDM for the T20s? One thing I slightly worry about in this comp , is all our other batsmen. Trego played a bit of an anchor role and maybe he'd have been able to take the initiative - as he always has done in England - if VDM's exploits don't come off , but I worry slightly on being over reliant on VDM's batting. Still I guess Jos'll be there soon

  • Juiceoftheapple on September 27, 2011, 7:34 GMT

    Kartiks not been as effective this year, but if he does decide to end is his county career, we are clearly down a fine attacking spinner. Can this void be filled in 40 over and 4 day cricket by RVDMs lefties and possibly together with a combination of Waller or Dockrell??? I haven't seen him bowl enough - RVDM and 4 day cricket anyone? But if he could, our middle order of Trego, Buttler and RVDM would be scary, no 4th day chasing total would be safe!!! As for arm chair support from Devon, support from all the West Country counties are crucial to the long term future of Somerset if we are to avoid becoming a marginalised provincial minnow in the face of the big city test venue counties. I suggest you come up for a CB40 match next year, you'll find Devonians are made extremely welcome. Not to mention the future of the team; Gregory, Dibble and the Overton twins are all from Devon, Jones is from Dorset, Waller from Wiltshire etc.

  • landl47 on September 27, 2011, 4:36 GMT

    I just think it's amusing to see Gambhir out first ball to a 19-year old. The legacy of the Indian tour lingers on!

  • JG2704 on September 26, 2011, 22:15 GMT

    JUICEOFTHEAPPLE - Enjoy youir views - as I do everyone's on this subject. I feel a little fake as I'm just an armchair fan from Plymouth whereas you go to see them. Not seen much of Dibble , but re Suppiah - I know he had a shocker vs Puttan but he has had looked fairly consistent as a bowler each time I've seen him or seen his figures. On hindsight I think that AT should have bowled some more of Gregory or even Trego. I agree re RVDM's bowling over Pollard's too. Although funnily P's bowling figs have been good for MI. DAVEROTHERY,I fink Kartick a little hit and miss. Obviously hugely talented but he seems to have as many off days as on days and he contributes little in the bat or in the field. Sorry if I've offended core fans NCURD and other SS fans, Is Gregory injured? It just seems strange to play a guy who bowls well and stems the flow of runs and then send him home. I like Kirby but if he was the guy they were going to keep why didn't they play him ahead of Gregory?

  • JG2704 on September 26, 2011, 21:53 GMT

    MUNKEYMOMO - Totally agree re Hildreth. I know this is a controversial thing but I would have sent Hildreth home - for a rest - and kept Jones or Snell out there as batsmen. Re VDM , I remember seeing him play a T20 match on TV and he was whacking the ball all over the place. Also if memory serves me right , he scored 100 in one of the group games and dwarfed Tres's scoring rate. The thing I really like about the guy , compared to the rest of the Somerset side (inc Tres at times) , with the exception of Jos is that he looks to be very busy right from when he arrives at the crease. I know that at times this may be his undoing , but I really like the guy alot. I prefer him to Pollard because he of the intensity he shows in all facets of his game. Also let's not forget that Pollard chose Mumbai over Somerset. Sign him up now before someone else gets in there.

  • sachin_vvsfan on September 26, 2011, 16:18 GMT

    iam just waiting for gambhir to get injured again but continue this series and skip the next international series.

  • thirdmanboundary on September 26, 2011, 14:02 GMT

    @Nduru. You're exactly right. Tahir and Botha are both much better bowlers. That's complete nonsense that RVDM has been excluded because of quotas. He had his chances and failed on the big stage. The main spinners ahead of him aren't even so-called quota players.

  • zico123 on September 26, 2011, 13:30 GMT

    Shameless Gambhir is playing Champions League when he faked injury (concussion) and skipped the England tour ! it shows his priority of KKR over country, we fans hate him for setting such bad example

  • JG2704 on September 27, 2011, 19:54 GMT

    JUICE - Maybe I'll get out of my armchair one day. Maybe I'll look at the train timetable next year to see how doable it is. Don't most of the T20s sell out though?

  • Juiceoftheapple on September 27, 2011, 14:05 GMT

    With Kies and Buttler back we're less reliant on Trego and RVDM. Compo's also doing well. You can buy a ticket online the day before a game and print it at home, hop on a train to Taunton, sit back and enjoy 6 hours of quality cricket. Simple.

  • JG2704 on September 27, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    JUICE... There are 2 things that put me off actually attending live games. 1 is that I hate travelling on public transport (as I don't drive) and 2 is that the weather - esp over recent years - is so unpredictable in the summer and I'd hate to buy tickets , travel tickets etc only to have the game rained off. Lame I know but I'm not flush with money. LG is from nearby. I'm not sure about RVDM in the 4 day comp , but I'd definitely have him ahead of Pollard - he'll probably fail miserably now I've said that. If MK doesn't play for Somerset next season , how about a quality bowler for the 4 day game and bring back Ponting alongside RVDM for the T20s? One thing I slightly worry about in this comp , is all our other batsmen. Trego played a bit of an anchor role and maybe he'd have been able to take the initiative - as he always has done in England - if VDM's exploits don't come off , but I worry slightly on being over reliant on VDM's batting. Still I guess Jos'll be there soon

  • Juiceoftheapple on September 27, 2011, 7:34 GMT

    Kartiks not been as effective this year, but if he does decide to end is his county career, we are clearly down a fine attacking spinner. Can this void be filled in 40 over and 4 day cricket by RVDMs lefties and possibly together with a combination of Waller or Dockrell??? I haven't seen him bowl enough - RVDM and 4 day cricket anyone? But if he could, our middle order of Trego, Buttler and RVDM would be scary, no 4th day chasing total would be safe!!! As for arm chair support from Devon, support from all the West Country counties are crucial to the long term future of Somerset if we are to avoid becoming a marginalised provincial minnow in the face of the big city test venue counties. I suggest you come up for a CB40 match next year, you'll find Devonians are made extremely welcome. Not to mention the future of the team; Gregory, Dibble and the Overton twins are all from Devon, Jones is from Dorset, Waller from Wiltshire etc.

  • landl47 on September 27, 2011, 4:36 GMT

    I just think it's amusing to see Gambhir out first ball to a 19-year old. The legacy of the Indian tour lingers on!

  • JG2704 on September 26, 2011, 22:15 GMT

    JUICEOFTHEAPPLE - Enjoy youir views - as I do everyone's on this subject. I feel a little fake as I'm just an armchair fan from Plymouth whereas you go to see them. Not seen much of Dibble , but re Suppiah - I know he had a shocker vs Puttan but he has had looked fairly consistent as a bowler each time I've seen him or seen his figures. On hindsight I think that AT should have bowled some more of Gregory or even Trego. I agree re RVDM's bowling over Pollard's too. Although funnily P's bowling figs have been good for MI. DAVEROTHERY,I fink Kartick a little hit and miss. Obviously hugely talented but he seems to have as many off days as on days and he contributes little in the bat or in the field. Sorry if I've offended core fans NCURD and other SS fans, Is Gregory injured? It just seems strange to play a guy who bowls well and stems the flow of runs and then send him home. I like Kirby but if he was the guy they were going to keep why didn't they play him ahead of Gregory?

  • JG2704 on September 26, 2011, 21:53 GMT

    MUNKEYMOMO - Totally agree re Hildreth. I know this is a controversial thing but I would have sent Hildreth home - for a rest - and kept Jones or Snell out there as batsmen. Re VDM , I remember seeing him play a T20 match on TV and he was whacking the ball all over the place. Also if memory serves me right , he scored 100 in one of the group games and dwarfed Tres's scoring rate. The thing I really like about the guy , compared to the rest of the Somerset side (inc Tres at times) , with the exception of Jos is that he looks to be very busy right from when he arrives at the crease. I know that at times this may be his undoing , but I really like the guy alot. I prefer him to Pollard because he of the intensity he shows in all facets of his game. Also let's not forget that Pollard chose Mumbai over Somerset. Sign him up now before someone else gets in there.

  • sachin_vvsfan on September 26, 2011, 16:18 GMT

    iam just waiting for gambhir to get injured again but continue this series and skip the next international series.

  • thirdmanboundary on September 26, 2011, 14:02 GMT

    @Nduru. You're exactly right. Tahir and Botha are both much better bowlers. That's complete nonsense that RVDM has been excluded because of quotas. He had his chances and failed on the big stage. The main spinners ahead of him aren't even so-called quota players.

  • zico123 on September 26, 2011, 13:30 GMT

    Shameless Gambhir is playing Champions League when he faked injury (concussion) and skipped the England tour ! it shows his priority of KKR over country, we fans hate him for setting such bad example

  • Nduru on September 26, 2011, 13:29 GMT

    @MrGarreth: The only reason he is not in the team is not quota but that SA already has Johan Botha and Imran Tahir, who are far better bowlers, even if they can't slog as well as RVDM. Name me one quota player in the SA team right now? People always used to say that Amla was a quota player and look what happened to his career. RVDM was given a big chance in 2009/10 in the SA team and while he was an agressive spin bowler, apart from that one T20 innings, he failed with the bat. Truth is, SA will never pick a spin heavy attack, so his place will always be under threat from Botha and co.

  • Munkeymomo on September 26, 2011, 12:58 GMT

    @JG2704 quite right, Hildreth is a bit of a liability, had a poor year and is now even struggling to rotate the strike well. Compton is more than capable of doing that holding job but he seems to be scoring well, at over a run a ball at the moment, so there is certainly a case for keeping Jones to open with Kies or keeping Snell to bat below Buttler. As for the overseas player comment, I wouldn't be too hasty in dropping Polly, but it's hard to argue when RVD bats like that! Both are outstanding fielders but RVD is a better bowler. Rumour is that unfortunately Murali may be off at the end of the year though, so perhaps could have both RVD and Polly! Thats a powerful lineup.

  • on September 26, 2011, 12:42 GMT

    @ JG2704 - if Karthik doesn't play for Somerset next year, rvdm could replace both and be available in all the formats. TBH after the games I've seen him in this year he's a better bowler, more consistent batsman and just as good a fielder as Kieron.

  • Juiceoftheapple on September 26, 2011, 12:22 GMT

    As mentioned, for Somerset this year RVDM was excellent in T20s, didn't he average 50 or something? He seems to be just as effective as Pollard with the bat, but imo I would take his slow left arm in T20s every day compared with Pollard's medium pace short of a length. I think Brian Rose will too! That might lessen our need for Suppiah's lefties in the T20 games and allow Gregory / Kirby / Dibble in to play instead in the future, Suppiah and Hildreth are both struggling, but Hildy has and will score a lot more runs. Real shame Gregory has got to go home. Compo is doing a great job proving people wrong after getting dropped in T20s this summer for batting too slow. And Trego's been awesome as our anchoer player. And now we have Buttler and Kies back - our young England T20 big hitters.....

  • bhavi_best on September 26, 2011, 11:46 GMT

    delhi daredevils didnt knw how to use van der merwe.... he would hv been a great no.3 batsman for daredevils...

  • ncurd on September 26, 2011, 10:44 GMT

    @JG2704 Snell has to go home as does Gregory unfortunately all part of having to declare a squad and they were only allowed replacements due to international duty. Not sure why we don't keep that around the squad though just in case of injuries. Hildreth isn't really a big hitter of the ball (although he can) and more of a stroke. The game of cricket isn't about trying to hit the ball out the ground every ball even T20. Look at the stats Somerset scored 10 more 4's than while KKR scored 7 more 6's. That problem was KKR's 6's came at the end of their innings while somerset's 4's came the start. This meant somerset could of at a fairly leisurely pace for the rest of the match. Yeah there was wobble but the run rate never got away from them so milking singles was good enough. I tend to find most T20 games are won through the running between the wickets more than aerial shots. If a team are running well they very rarely loose and it's usually the difference between sides.

  • MrGarreth on September 26, 2011, 9:47 GMT

    The only reason he isnt in the SA team is because of something we Saffers dont like to talk about: quota system

  • JG2704 on September 26, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    Absolutely brilliant all round performance from RVDM. It is easy to forget how well he bowled because of how well he did with the bat. It is incredible that they qualified when depleted by the losses of Tres , Buttler and Kies. The one thing I worry about though is that none of the other SS batsmen seemed able to score at a rate and they may be over reliant on RVDM. I'm looking forward to seeing how Buttler and Kies get on out there too.

    I am however thinking that maybe Snell and/or Jones could stay in the side - Snell as a batsman. I just feel that Hilldreth is a liability. He seems to have gone off the boil with the bat and to me he does as good a job as an economical bowler for the opposition in slowing the run rate down. As for RVDM - Somerset should replace Pollard with him for the T20s next season. The guy is a busy player who can do a job with both bat and ball.

  • Guernica on September 26, 2011, 9:34 GMT

    It's weird - South Africa have so many good players, particularly all-rounders, but put them together in a major tournament and it all goes wrong..

  • Munkeymomo on September 26, 2011, 9:27 GMT

    @Gupta actually he played a few knocks like that in the Friends Life competition, proper shot, not slogs like he used to. Improved massively as a batsman. Great fielder too.

  • Arthaurian on September 26, 2011, 9:24 GMT

    well unfortunately he does not do such things back at home.

  • athar.cricket on September 26, 2011, 8:25 GMT

    brilliant display of all round performance by roelof van der merwe

  • Gupta.Ankur on September 26, 2011, 7:33 GMT

    Come on guys......that's just one innings right?!

  • on September 26, 2011, 6:36 GMT

    Wonderful innings from RVDM. Absolutely breathtaking stuff from him. He's come ages for sure, since i last saw him in RCB colors. He should be a sure shot in the SA team!

  • rama_krish on September 26, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    It was wonderful and exciting to watch van der Merwe bat last night. He showed class, a mature temperament, and excellent technique to bat on a very good T20 wicket - GO SOMERSET. I look froward to a Somerset vs Trinidad and Tobago final

  • on September 26, 2011, 6:03 GMT

    Roelof certainly has talent as a hard hitting batsmen, we know thtnin South Africa. It's just that most chances we've given him, he hasn't really shone yet. But he could still mature, this innings was spectacular.

  • Vijayendra on September 26, 2011, 5:38 GMT

    I'd like to know how a left-arm spinner is playing like a top batsman! also not sure how the RCB, when Roelof van der Merwe was playing with them never realized that he is such a clean hitter of the ball and never tried to utilize his skills as a batsman. Same goes with SA. this guy could have been tremendous in WC 2011 where SA was struggling with the 6th/7th batsman.

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  • Vijayendra on September 26, 2011, 5:38 GMT

    I'd like to know how a left-arm spinner is playing like a top batsman! also not sure how the RCB, when Roelof van der Merwe was playing with them never realized that he is such a clean hitter of the ball and never tried to utilize his skills as a batsman. Same goes with SA. this guy could have been tremendous in WC 2011 where SA was struggling with the 6th/7th batsman.

  • on September 26, 2011, 6:03 GMT

    Roelof certainly has talent as a hard hitting batsmen, we know thtnin South Africa. It's just that most chances we've given him, he hasn't really shone yet. But he could still mature, this innings was spectacular.

  • rama_krish on September 26, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    It was wonderful and exciting to watch van der Merwe bat last night. He showed class, a mature temperament, and excellent technique to bat on a very good T20 wicket - GO SOMERSET. I look froward to a Somerset vs Trinidad and Tobago final

  • on September 26, 2011, 6:36 GMT

    Wonderful innings from RVDM. Absolutely breathtaking stuff from him. He's come ages for sure, since i last saw him in RCB colors. He should be a sure shot in the SA team!

  • Gupta.Ankur on September 26, 2011, 7:33 GMT

    Come on guys......that's just one innings right?!

  • athar.cricket on September 26, 2011, 8:25 GMT

    brilliant display of all round performance by roelof van der merwe

  • Arthaurian on September 26, 2011, 9:24 GMT

    well unfortunately he does not do such things back at home.

  • Munkeymomo on September 26, 2011, 9:27 GMT

    @Gupta actually he played a few knocks like that in the Friends Life competition, proper shot, not slogs like he used to. Improved massively as a batsman. Great fielder too.

  • Guernica on September 26, 2011, 9:34 GMT

    It's weird - South Africa have so many good players, particularly all-rounders, but put them together in a major tournament and it all goes wrong..

  • JG2704 on September 26, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    Absolutely brilliant all round performance from RVDM. It is easy to forget how well he bowled because of how well he did with the bat. It is incredible that they qualified when depleted by the losses of Tres , Buttler and Kies. The one thing I worry about though is that none of the other SS batsmen seemed able to score at a rate and they may be over reliant on RVDM. I'm looking forward to seeing how Buttler and Kies get on out there too.

    I am however thinking that maybe Snell and/or Jones could stay in the side - Snell as a batsman. I just feel that Hilldreth is a liability. He seems to have gone off the boil with the bat and to me he does as good a job as an economical bowler for the opposition in slowing the run rate down. As for RVDM - Somerset should replace Pollard with him for the T20s next season. The guy is a busy player who can do a job with both bat and ball.