From cricket bat to rotor : The journey of Boeta Dippenaar

Sagar Ashtakoula

Boeta Dippenar preferred text-book shots over unorthodox cricket shots.

Cricket, in its process of evolving, was subjected to some radical changes, especially during the early years of the 21st century.

Chasing 250 in a 50-over game seemed to be a daunting task till the 90s. But the situation slowly changed, and the game got inclined slightly in favour of the batsmen. While this developed a stiff competition between the bat and the ball, it became a bane for certain players who were unable to cope up with the changing game.

One such unfortunate player was Boeta Dippenaar, the South-African batsman who played predominantly during 1999-2007.

Debut In International Cricket

Dippenaar started off as an opener in the One-day side for South Africa. He played his first One-Day International match against India in September 1999 and scored a mere 17 runs off 53 balls.

His first breakthrough came in Tests where he scored his maiden century against New Zealand in Johannesburg in December 2000. Taking note of his abundant experience in first-class cricket, the selectors trusted him and he was a member of the team irrespective of his shaky performance till 2003.

Later on, Dippenaar shined in the tour to West Indies during 2005. He scored 317 runs in 5 ODI matches. His record against West Indies deserves a special mention as he scored 775 runs across all formats at a mammoth average of 64.58.

He was one of the very few batsmen whose international career average(42.23) stood higher than the first class career average(39.56).

Style of Play

Like many other batsmen of the same era, Dippenaar chose textbook cricket over unorthodox cricket. He liked to drive the ball through the covers and chose to defend on his back-foot most of the times. This became a weakness in his game as it was easily exploited by the bowlers and he used to get caught out easily on numerous occasions.

Dippenaar liked to play the ball across the line

Another issue with his batting was that he liked to play every third ball he faced across the line. This combined with his back-foot defence, caused some serious problems for him throughout his career.

Injuries and Retirement

Just after his successful tour of the Windies in 2005, it looked like Dippenaar had found the form of his life. However, things did not turn out as expected and Dippenaar injured his right wrist. He stated that he was diagnosed with a dorsal ganglion and underwent an operation immediately.

Owing to this injury, Dippenaar missed the all-important tour of India and started playing county matches after recovery. He was called by the selectors into the national team at times but couldn't really find his way into the playing eleven.

He played his last one-day international against Asia XI at MA Chidambaram Stadium in 2007.

Life after Retirement

The fascinating thing about Dippenaar's life started after his professional career. Like many other players, his post-retirement job was being a commentator first. But, unlike a few, Dippennar did not run out of options as he thought cricket was not the only choice that surrounded him. He believed that there was life beyond cricket and explored the same.

Dippenaar is a commercial helicopter pilot now.

Boeta Dippenaar is a certified pilot and a lawyer as well. When he is not commenting in cricket, he handles different jobs such as chasing animals through thick forests, balancing huge materials hanging off a sling. He is also doing military assignments as a commercial helicopter pilot across the borders of South Africa.

Clearly, life presents itself with various opportunities and if taken, one can prove their merit in more than one profession, and Boeta Dippenaar proved just the same.