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Ken Borland

One of SA’s most exciting products finally back in the Proteas fold

Posted on August 10, 2022 by Ken

Rilee Rossouw has been one of the most exciting products to emerge from South African cricket in the last 15 years, and the left-handed batsman is finally back in the Proteas fold after being named in the T20 squad to play in England at the end of July.

Having announced himself in the 2008/9 domestic season as a 19-year-old, Rossouw was first chosen for the Proteas in August 2014. He played 36 ODIs and 15 T20s, and finally seemed to have nailed down a regular place in the batting line-up, even though he had not entirely done his talent justice yet with an ODI average of 38.71 at a strike-rate of 94, and an average of 29 and strike-rate of 137 in T20s.

But at the start of the 2016/17 season, having just negotiated a contract renewal with CSA, who had also paid for a big shoulder surgery, he jumped ship and took up a Kolpak deal with Hampshire. The timing of his departure – in the middle of a series against Sri Lanka – blindsided CSA, and even when all Kolpak contracts came to an end in early 2021, Rossouw seemed to still be out in the cold.

But the unavailability of Temba Bavuma for the England tour due to a torn tricep muscle has led to Rossouw returning from the wilderness. His form certainly justifies it: playing for Somerset in the T20 Blast, the 32-year-old has scored the third-most runs (498), passing fifty six times in his 12 innings, at a scintillating strike-rate of 191.53, making him by far the most explosive batsman in the competition.

And in terms of eligibility he met the national selectors’ requirements by playing in the CSA T20 Provincial Cup at the start of last summer and topping the batting charts with 295 runs in five innings, at a strike-rate of 157, leading the Free State Knights to the title. He did not play in the CSA T20 Challenge later in the season though, and the Knights finished last.

According to the national selectors, they have had discussions with Rossouw and he is only looking to play through to the T20 World Cup at the moment, but they believe he can provide the x-factor the team needs at the top of the order.

Simon Harmer and Duanne Olivier (Tests) and Wayne Parnell (T20s) are the other former Kolpak players who have passed muster and will be touring England.

Harmer has proven his worth in the Test arena and the selectors are seriously considering playing him alongside Keshav Maharaj in a five-strong bowling attack that would include Marco Jansen as the all-rounder at No.7.

Olivier’s experience of English conditions and ability to swing the ball have counted in his favour too.

Bavuma passed up the option of having surgery on his elbow, which can sometimes speed up the process of healing a triceps tear. The more reliable route is apparently to totally rest the arm and let natural healing take place, although this will take 8-10 weeks.

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