Ruhan Pretorius: Woodvale is definitely moving in the right direction

Ruhan Pretorius may not have started life at Woodvale in the blistering fashion those around the local cricket circuit have been accustomed to in recent years, but the all-rounder has certainly hit his stride now.

By Johnny Morton
Saturday, 28th August 2021, 1:00 pm
Ruhan Pretorius has been in sparkling form of late
Ruhan Pretorius has been in sparkling form of late

The 30-year-old has been one of the standout performers in NCU cricket over the past six years – when he first came on the scene with Waringstown before spending four seasons with North Down – averaging more than 50 in each of those campaigns.

He has set his standards so high that it came as a surprise to see him entering August sitting 16th on the top-flight batting charts after scoring 394 at an average of 32.83, but a few weeks is a long time in sport.

Since then, Pretorius has blasted 141 from 64 balls against Carrickfergus and followed it up with 75 two days later in defeat to Waringstown.

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He then popped over to England for a guest overseas professional appearance for Lancashire League side Lowerhouse CC, where he proceeded to smash six maximums on his way to posting 79* in a 45-ball stay at the crease to help the Burnley-based outfit win the Worsley Cup.

After a tough opening spell at a new club, Pretorius is delighted that he’s now reaping the rewards of the hard work being put in behind the scenes.

“I’m very happy,” he said. “I’ve been working hard in terms of training.

“The last month or so the work has been paying off and it’s been very satisfying how things have gone.”

His winter move to Woodvale came as a shock to everyone with the South African released from a contract at North Down before making the switch to Ballygomartin Road.

They sit sixth heading into today’s Premier League encounter against Instonians but Pretorius is confident they are building towards something much bigger – so much so that he has committed the next four years of his career to the project.

“It has been unbelievable how they have accepted me into the club and every single person at the club wants you to do well and succeed,” he added.

“The help I’ve had from Tim Browne, Paul Robinson, Wayne (Horwood), James Hall and even the younger guys like Harry (Warke) – they all just want you to do well and play at the highest level you can.

“I’ve loved every minute of it. The club is definitely moving in the right direction.

“With the guys who were there that brought the team back up to the Premier League plus a few new faces, it has been a fresh start for the club and I’ve heard a lot of clubs we played against calling us the weakest in the league but we’ve had success. We beat North Down at their own ground and we’ve won four games.

“You can see how well the likes of Harry (Warke) and Aditya (Adey) have done this year and they’re both youngsters. I think if we add a couple next year we will be a competitive team and compete at a high level, and that’s our aim.”

We only get to see the player on the field and very rarely get an insight into the person; what they are dealing with internally and, sometimes harshly, judge them solely on the results on the pitch.

Pretorius has had to deal with his own problems away from the field over the course of this season but now feels like he may be in the best form of his career – which is saying something.

“I would put my hands up and say at the start of the season when I was playing for the Knights it was not good,” he said.

“I had a lot of things going on and I’m not making excuses because when you’re a professional cricketer it’s your job to do well.

“I had a few set downs at the start of the year with being in a car accident and my mum and dad were really sick back home in South Africa, so I had to deal with that but they’ve came through and are all good.

“I’m happy and been in a brilliant place. You have to deal with things in life and everyone goes through their own things and problems.

“I’ve learnt very quickly that you have to push those things to one side because at the start of the year it affected me and my performances lacked massively.

“I’ve seen a psychologist called Kirsten van Heerden, who is from South Africa and I had a few calls with her. She has helped me massively and even the support I have here has been unbelievable.

“I’m back on track and I’m hitting the ball as well as I ever have. I’m bowling well too so I’m very happy with where I am at again.”

Pretorius qualifies for Ireland next year and he has made no secret that his ultimate ambition is to make an international debut.

He scored 90 for the Wolves side in Bangladesh in March but hasn’t been selected for the upcoming fixture against Zimbabwe – something he takes full responsibility for and the motivation to make amends is burning brighter than ever.

“I didn’t perform and for me to not get selected for the Wolves squad against Zimbabwe is my own fault,” he added. “I haven’t performed well enough to justify being in that squad and I’ve only been performing for the past six weeks.

“Motivation is massive. The only thing I can control is my performances so I need to keep putting in the hard work, looking after my fitness, my health.

“All I can do is keep working hard and make sure that if I get another opportunity that I’m ready to perform like I was in Bangladesh.”