The continued misfortune of Rilee Rossouw has turned out to be the joy of Theunis de Bruyn, with the Knights captain called up to the South African Test squad for the first time on Wednesday, ahead of the three-Test series against Sri Lanka which starts on Boxing Day.
Rossouw, who toured Australia without playing in any of the Tests, has been ruled out of action by another foot injury and his place in the squad has been taken by uncapped Knights team-mate De Bruyn.
The tall 24-year-old has been considered an obvious future international for the last three seasons, boasting an impressive first-class average of 48.73 with six centuries in 32 matches including a double for SA A against the England Lions. Convenor of selectors Linda Zondi told The Citizen that De Bruyn is considered a future star of all three formats.
“Theunis a good talent and has done well for both his franchise and SA A. Obviously we aren’t pleased with Rilee’s injury because he’s the next batsman in line, and Stiaan van Zyl would probably also have been in line had he not signed a Kolpak deal, but Theunis is next in the pecking order. It’s good to get him into the set-up because we definitely see him as a future star for the Proteas, playing in all the formats,” Zondi said.
“It’s obviously very disappointing for Rilee, I spoke to him in Australia and he really wants to do well for South Africa and was very happy with the way we backed him in the ODIs. He’s obviously an exceptional player and he will still do well in the future for South Africa and contribute immensely going forward because it’s still a long season ahead and he’s definitely still in our plans.”
Because the Proteas are now back on home soil, the squad has been reduced to 13 players, with Wayne Parnell the fast bowler called in to replace the injured Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn. Wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius and reserve wicketkeeper Dane Vilas are no longer part of the squad.
The likelihood of De Bruyn making his debut will depend on whether captain Faf du Plessis escapes a ban from his appeal for ball-tampering on Monday, but just being in camp with the Test team will be of immense benefit to the development of the elegant right-hander.
“Even if he doesn’t make the starting XI, he’s going to gain more experience and fitting into those surroundings and the culture of the team will only enhance his belief that he will be able to fit in at international level,” Zondi said.