Chris Waters: Salute to Yorkshire great Jacques Rudolph

Yorkshire's Jacques Rudolph
Yorkshire's Jacques Rudolph
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IT promises to be a September of fond farewells.

Ryan Sidebottom, the great Yorkshire and England left-arm bowler, will be calling it a day at the age of 39.

If Lehmann was the nonpareil of overseas players, Rudolph was the next best thing and a similarly fine ambassador for Yorkshire off the field.

Chris Waters

Kumar Sangakkara, the great Surrey and Sri Lanka batsman, will be doing likewise in his 40th year.

Ditto Chris Read, the great Nottinghamshire and England wicketkeeper, who is hanging up his gloves.

Now this trio have been joined by Jacques Rudolph, the great Glamorgan and South Africa batsman, once of Yorkshire, who has announced that he is retiring at the age of 36.

By any standards of statistics and performance, Rudolph deserves to be recalled as one of the finest batsmen that Yorkshire have possessed.

He spent only four full seasons with the county, from 2007 to 2010 inclusive, and also played in the second half of 2011.

But during that period he scored 5,429 runs in 68 first-class games at an average of 52.20, to go with 3,090 runs in 65 one-day matches at an average of 59.42.

A wonderfully stylish player, he had a grace and elegance that are given to few.

One of the privileges of this job is that it brings you into contact with some quality people as well as great sportsmen.

Sidebottom is a prime example, as is Read, who are as impressive off the field as they are on it.

I have not been fortunate enough to encounter Sangakkara beyond observing his silky skills from the press box, but Rudolph is another of the game’s genuine good guys.

Indeed, if the measure of a cricketer is how he conducts himself in all ways, not just on the pitch but off it too, with supporters and so on, then Rudolph can look back with huge pride on his all-round contribution to a sport that he has graced with distinction.

When one references standards of statistics and performance, there can be only one benchmark when it comes to overseas batsmen.

The ultimate yardstick has to be Darren Lehmann, the current Australia coach and former Yorkshire batsman, who scored 8,871 runs in 88 first-class games for the club at an average of 68.76.

For my money, Rudolph was in the very next bracket down, which is to say still in the stratosphere, high above the clouds.

If Lehmann was the nonpareil of overseas players, Rudolph was the next best thing and a similarly fine ambassador for Yorkshire off the field.

Comparisons between the two are not inappropriate.

Like Lehmann, Rudolph did not play as much Test cricket as his talent perhaps warranted; in another era, he would surely have represented his country many more times.

He averaged 35 in 48 Tests after starting out with an unbeaten double-hundred against Bangladesh, which, as the former Yorkshire first-team coach Jason Gillespie would tell you (and frequently does on the after-dinner circuit), takes some doing.

Rudolph, who made his Yorkshire debut a year after Gillespie famously scored 201 not out against Bangladesh in Chittagong, an achievement that perhaps gave the great Australian as much, if not more pleasure than any of his 259 Test wickets, effectively called time on his international career when he joined Yorkshire as a Kolpak player, later resuming that career once he left Headingley.

He was part of the South Africa team that rose to No 1 in the world rankings, and, as with Lehmann, international cricket’s loss was very much Yorkshire’s gain.

Rudolph has enjoyed his time at Glamorgan, for whom he has played since 2014 and also captained.

A proud man and a family man, too, he says that he is calling it a day due to form and family considerations and looking forward to starting a new chapter.

Let us hope that the public of Wales and beyond enjoy him while they can and give him the send-off that he so richly deserves.