Rilee Rossouw, a stylish top-order batsman with an elegant and authoritative drive, proved himself as a high-impact batsman for South Africa in limited-overs formats before opting for a Kolpak deal in English county cricket at Hampshire.
Rossouw departed on the same day as his team-mate Kyle Abbott, but it was Rossouw who suffered the ire of South Africa’s coach Russell Domingo, who had his four ducks in his first six ODI innings in mind when he said: “We backed him when he made five noughts”, adding of his early failures: “If that had been a player of colour, everyone would have said transformation.”
He first came to attention in the 2008 Under-19 World Cup, returning to play for the Eagles franchise, (later renamed Knights), where he was their highest run-getter in the 2008-09 season. In 2009-10, he went one better and was the leading run-scorer in the first-class competition with 1189 runs at an average of 66.05. In the next season, he was the second-highest run-getter in the one-day cup. He was rewarded with a place in the South Africa A squad which toured Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in 2010. Rossouw averaged over 40 in first-class cricket in three of the four seasons which followed – 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 – and despite regular appearances in A sides, he was still unable to break into to the Test team.
One particular tweet did not help. Like many South Africans, Rossouw, then 21, took the team’s quarter-final defeat to New Zealand at the World Cup hard. His post included the word “chokers” and, although it was soon deleted, the memory stuck. It was in the shorter formats where he had more opportunities. In 2014, Rossouw picked up an IPL contract with Royal Challengers Bangalore, although playing opportunities were limited in a star-studded squad. Eventually, in August that year, he was included in a South Africa’s ODI squad.
He toured Zimbabwe for a visit that also included a tri-series against Australia. He had a nightmarish start to international cricket and racked up four ducks in his first six innings. The South African selectors, though, had seen evidence of his quality over seasons in the domestic game and persisted with him. He was also included in the T20 squad for the Australia tour in November 2014, where he scored 78 in his first match in Adelaide.
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