Jacobus Andries Rudolph
May 04, 1981, Springs, Transvaal
Left hand bat
A composed left-handed batsman with a picture-perfect cover drive and nifty footwork, Jacques Rudolph overcame political obstacles twice to forge an international career that began with a bang but faded against the backdrop of county success.
Rudolph scored an unbeaten 222 on Test debut against Bangladesh in Chittagong in 2003, two years after he played the unofficial match at Centurion against India, in the aftermath of the Mike Denness affair. His debut came a year after his selection for the New Year's Test in Australia in January 2002 was vetoed by United Cricket Board president Percy Sonn who demanded that Justin Ontong, a player of colour, debut instead.
When given his chance, Rudolph's response was a statement of strength. His double-century in Chittagong was also part of a record-breaking, unbeaten 429-run stand for the third wicket with Boeta Dippenaar. The partnership was the first 400-plus stand for South Africa in Test cricket.
Rudolph scored four more centuries, including an unbeaten 102 to save South Africa from defeat in a classic at Perth at the end of 2005, but then managed just one fifty in his next 14 innings and was dropped after a tour to Sri Lanka in 2006. In January 2007, he decided to move to Yorkshire on a three-year Kolpak deal, suspending his international career with South Africa in the hope of redeveloping his game.
He made 1078 runs at 56.73 in his first County Championship season and immediately extended his contract to the end of 2011. In each of the next three seasons he made over 1000 first-class runs and it rekindled his appetite for the highest level.
He left his Yorkshire deal a year early to re-stake a claim for South Africa with his old franchise, Titans. Rudolph's first season back in South Africa, in 2010-11, was a huge success. He was the leading run-scorer in the SuperSport series, with 954 runs in 17 innings, and was rewarded with a call-up to the national squad to face Australia in late 2011 and partner Graeme Smith at the top of the order.
Rudolph struggled to carry his domestic form to the international stage and after eight innings was moved down into the middle order. He fared better there, and scored the only century of his second stint, which spanned 13 Tests. He was part of the squad that won the Test mace off England in mid-2012 but was dropped during South Africa's next series in Australia, later that year.
He continued playing for Titans until the 2014-15 season, after which he chose to focus on county cricket and T20 leagues. In 2013, he signed a two-year deal at Glamorgan. In 2014, he made 857 Championship runs which also led to a two-year extension at the end of that year. He was named Glamorgan captain for the 2015 season but stood down early in his final season, in 2017, as he confirmed his impending retirement.
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