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Baartman, the ‘Iceman’ keeping things cool for Proteas at T20 World Cup

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Ottniel Baartman received his maiden international cap only 27 days ago and has only five international caps under his belt, but is already the go-to man in pressure situations in the Proteas’ bowling attack.

South Africa’s Ottniel Baartman (centre) celebrates after dismissing Netherlands’ Sybrand Engelbrecht during the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup 2024 group D cricket match at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in East Meadow, New York on June 8, 2024. Picture: TIMOTHY A CLARY, AFP

IN World Cups, the term ‘iceman’ has never been synonymous with Proteas players who have time and again crumbled under pressure on the big stage.

However, it seems the Proteas have finally found their iceman in international cricket newcomer Ottniel Baartman.

Since the inaugural edition of the SA20, the 31-year-old fast bowler has proved himself to be a clutch player the captain looks to when the chips are down. Somehow, Baartman has been able to deliver similar performances in his first tour with the Proteas as he defended seven runs in the 20th over to help South Africa beat Nepal by one run in a T20 World Cup group match.

Baartman said on Tuesday that he relishes being in those high-pressure situations and that his Academy back in Oudtshoorn instilled the mentality that makes him strive under pressure.

“The pressure situations bring out the best in any player, that’s what we live for. That’s what you as a player dream of, to be in those pressure situations more often than not,” said Baartman.

“I spoke to my coach way back when I was still in the Academy and his motto was, ‘the one that stays the calmest in pressure situations is always the one that’s going to come out on top’. For me it’s about staying calm, I’ve been in these situations before.

“There is pressure from the crowd but if you execute, there’s nothing more you can do. Don’t show that you fear, don’t show that the batter is on top of you. I think those are the smaller margins in the games that’s going get you on top.”

Baartman received his maiden international cap only 27 days ago and has only five international caps under his belt, but is already the go-to man in pressure situations in the Proteas’ bowling attack.

Despite his inexperience on the biggest stage, Baartman is able to still keep things simple, changing very little about his game that saw him earn the call-up to the Proteas’ World Cup squad.

“It’s quite amazing,” Baartman said when describing the feeling of representing South Africa in his first World Cup.

“If you’re representing your country in any given format it is amazing, but to do it in a World Cup is magnificent. I’m enjoying this journey so far and I can’t wait to do it more often. It’s been really good four games for the team.

“Playing away from home in a World Cup is totally different. It’s probably the biggest stage you can play on in your career. But for me, I’ve been doing this for many years and nothing’s changed.

“It’s the international game but for me nothing changes; I just do what I did before the World Cup, do the stuff that got me here,” he concluded.

As the Super Eight stage gets underway today with the Proteas facing co-hosts the USA at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, Baartman will be an integral part of the team’s success.

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