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Rusty Theron :
Who would imagine that a grueling fifteen hour drive could play a pivotal role in carving out a cricket career?
Rusty Theron is a 34 year-old former South African cricketer who is now donning the red white and blue for the National USA cricket team after he fulfilled his qualification criteria in 2019.
I caught up with him in Lauderhill, Florida during the US Open Cricket 2019. While the inclement weather hit the Southeastern Florida on the first day of this annual event, it was a great opportunity for the players and media to interact.
After his parents were divorced at a very early age, it was Rusty’s older brother and his mother who assumed responsibility of grooming him. Growing up, a tree trunk would serve as their cricket stumps. Despite limited resources, both brothers would become creative and would also engage in day night games.
A decision by his mother to relocate to Port Elizabeth proved to be a defining moment in Rusty’s career. The training ground at Port Elizabeth has been home for several cricketing greats such as Graeme Pollock, Peter Pollock, Johan Botha, and Wayne Parnell.
“ Events in my childhood made me strong in character”, said a very confident Rusty. While recalling his professional career, he was quick to credit Kepler Wessels for playing a big role in shaping his career.
“Kepler guided me in several aspects of cricket and I owe a lot to him” remembered Rusty as he dug deep into his career path from the young days at St. George’s Park all the way now being on the national team for USA.
Quick to remind me that he is not 35 years old yet, Rusty had a memorable close out performance for USA in the recently concluded Super50 campaign when he just conceded two runs in the final over eclipsing Guyana in the tournament.
What I was most impressed by Rusty was his demeanor and inner confidence. While he continues to pursue his career in cricket playing for the USA team, he has also been studying English literature. He has completed his undergraduate course and is now contemplating further studies and possibly pursuing an academic appointment. Despite a difficult upbringing, here is an individual with a strong and confident personality along with great cricketing skills now coupled with his academic flair. In my opinion, Rusty could potentially become the guiding force for future development of cricket in the USA. His experience and knowledge about the game as an international cricketer along with his overall calmness and a sense of purpose makes me believe that Rusty will become a huge factor in the future successful endevors not only for the current USA cricket team but also as an organization.
He is planning to continue playing for the United States cricket team in the foreseeable future. He has battled a few injuries in the past but he has been most concerned about a stress fracture in his lower lumbar spine which may have slowed him down in speed but not impacted his bowling guiles.
Speaking about USA Cricket, he was quite positive regarding the changes that have occurred in 2019. For this nation to become more competitive, Rusty reckons that successful high performance programs along with a basic domestic structure would be ideal. Given the wide expanse of this nation and the economics of geography, it will continue to be a daunting task.
USA Cricket is headed in the right direction under the leadership of current administrators. Rusty also commented on the eventual need of a good scouting program to unearth talent that can be nurtured.
His advice to aspirant youngsters who want to play cricket is simple. “Enjoy yourself.”