To the casual observer, Theunis De Bruyn’s success for The Unlimited Titans this season appears to have come out of the blue. Just one month ago, De Bruyn seemed like little more than a 21-year-old hopeful with a handful of games under his belt. Although he boasted an Under-19 World Cup appearance from 2012, he was yet to make his List A debut and had played just five first-class games – one of them for the Titans at the back-end of last season. Now, however, he has two Momentum One-Day Cup centuries to talk about and a tally of 349 List A runs from five innings at an average of 87.25.
The youngster also has a 95 in the second round of Sunfoil Series games. All of a sudden De Bruyn, who turned 22 on October 8, looks set for the highest honours. Not for him the gradual ascent through the first-class structure.
“It’s not difficult to notice that the guy can play – it was just about when would be the right time to create an opportunity for him. In our warm-up games he scored a hundred against the Knights and then two weeks later he scored 95 in our second four-day game, then he hit a hundred in the one-day warm-up game that we played. He was quite obviously in a rich vein of form and can cope with the stresses of playing at this level. It was about making a call on creating the opportunity,” says Titans coach Rob Walter. In that regard, the Titans’ batting struggles made it easier for De Bruyn, who captained the Assupol TUKS to victory in the Red Bull Campus Cricket World Finals this winter, to be catapulted into the side.
Walter also explains that the reason why De Bruyn had played so little visible cricket prior to this season was injury. “He has stood out through all the age groups, but between the ages of 19 and 21 he had some groin and back issues that stood in the way of him progressing. He started to bowl seam-up fairly late in his career, and I think that potentially could have created a few of those issues,” said Walter. Now that De Bruyn’s body has come to grips with those demands, Walter believes he could develop into a handy all-rounder. For now his batting contributions will suffice, given that they have already won a few games for the Titans.
While his maiden century ended in defeat when Dolphins skipper Morne Van Wyk stunned the Titans with a ton of his own, a 60 on Friday secured a bonus-point win over the Cape Cobras and on Sunday De Bruyn delivered his finest innings yet – an unbeaten 152 from 144 balls to down the Warriors. Equally impressive as the number of runs is the manner in which they have been scored, with the tall right-hander just as able to clear the extra cover boundary off the front foot as he is able to hit over midwicket off the back foot. “He’s got so much pure talent, and he’s able to score all around the wicket. He’s also very mature for his age,” says Titans captain Henry Davids.
While the more senior batsmen in the domestic game are eyeing a place in the Proteas squad for next year’s World Cup, it’s just possible that the current season has unearthed a talent for 2019.
Photo: Titans star batsman Theunis De Bruyn was part of the Assupol TUKS side that won the Red Bull Campus Cricket World Finals