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Positive option pays off for Jansen, as Proteas takes the lead in Christchurch

South Africa’s Marco Jansen not only cleared two key New Zealand batsmen with the ball, but also failed a career-best, momentum-shifting 37 with the bat on the second day of the second Test in Christchurch on Saturday, and then said he was in debt to former Proteas batsman Neil McKenzie for helping him with the mental side of batting.

Jansen, 21, has long been believed to have enough baton skill to perhaps become a bowling all-rounder, and he certainly showed his talent on Saturday when he came in at 277/6 helping South Africa to a hefty 364 all the way out.

However, the Proteas seemed to be far behind, dropping to 302/8, before Jansen and Keshav Maharaj (36) landed 62 of 79 deliveries. A beautiful day for Jansen then ended with the wickets of Devon Conway (16) and Henry Nicholls (39).

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“When I was selected for the SA A squad last year, I was fortunate enough to work with Neil McKenzie (CSA high performance batting head). He helped me a lot with the strategic side of hitting,” said Jansen.

“It’s all about game plans and there’s more focus on how I mentally approach my percussion. I also still work a lot with our Proteas batting coach Justin Sammons; we are tweaking my technique and trying to hone it a bit.

“Kesh and I decided while we were hitting that we would take the positive option. Not to be reckless, but if the ball was near us, we would go for it.

“You know the bowlers will go short at some point and then you have a choice: take it or step back. I don’t want to say that I didn’t give everything, so I always give a little more in those situations,” said Jansen.

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Growing up with a twin brother, Duan, who is also a talented cricketer, playing a similar role as a bowler-who-can-bat for North-West helped fund a huge competitive brand in Marco Jansen. He has given as much as he has received in spirited exchanges with Indian fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah and with fiery Black Caps paceman Neil Wagner on Saturday.

“My brother and I are very competitive when it has anything to do with sports,” says Jansen. “When there’s a bit of an edge to the game, I always try to bring that little bit extra, I see it as my only chance and I give it everything.

“It’s a huge honor for me every time I walk on the pitch with that green cap, so I try to grab every opportunity now with both hands. Neil Wagner, as always, came hard, especially with the short balls.

“A few words were said but it wasn’t that heated, just two guys who were very competitive. I spoke Afrikaans to him and he answered in English…” Jansen confirmed.

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