Van Vureen makes World Cup history

FORMER Namibian international cricketer and rugby international, Rudie Van Vuuren is the only man to have ever played in both a Cricket World Cup and Rugby World Cup.

The 2003 Cricket World Cup was co-hosted by South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya, while the 2003 Rugby World Cup, which was then originally planned to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, saw all the games shifted to Australia following a contractual dispute over ground signage rights between the New Zealand Rugby Union and Rugby World Cup Limited.

Male rugby players may be known for their machismo, but in 2003 Van Vuuren took his into a Cricket World Cup too – telling Pakistan captain Waqar Younis his fellow fast bowlers Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar might lack a bit of pace.

Facing a little-known tail-ender making his one-day international debut, on its greatest stage, for cricketing minnows, in their first World Cup, the odds were stacked firmly against Van Vuuren. “We were 42-9. I came in at number 11 and, at that stage, the lowest total in a World Cup was 45 all out,” says Van Vuuren.

“I remember our team manager saying to me just before I walked out: ‘Doc, just keep us out of the record books.”

The team manager seemingly failed to mention anything about sledging some of the game’s legends, however. “At the drinks break, I said to Younis: ‘Waqar, you’re never going to get me out with these seamers. You need to bring on the spinners because Shoaib is not fast enough.’ He just lost it, and got really angry with me.”

But his brave batting display – 14 runs from 19 balls, which could not save the match but ensured Namibia made it to 84 – ended when he was bowled not by a speed merchant, but by spinner Saqlain Mushtaq.

“It was a great experience playing against the top of the world’s best players,” says Van Vuuren, who like all of his team-mates was an amateur.