It’s time for Rilee to step up


FROM a young age, Rilee Rossouw has been touted for an extended and prosperous international career. It had something to do with the way the Bloemfonein batsman caressed the ball through the covers when others needed to bludgeon it.

Or the fact that aged just 20, Rossouw, pictured, scored a triple-century in a single day – finishing with 319 – with only the legendary Barry Richards’ 325 for South Australia against Western Australia ahead of the left-hander among South Africans.

Rossouw certainly knew how to make people sit up and take notice. And one person who has been watching for a long time is former Proteas batsman Boeta Dippenaar. Dippenaar, who played 107 one-day internationals for the Proteas, wound down his franchise career at the Eagles (now the Knights) when the younger player began making waves early on his career. In fact, Dippenaar was the man dismissed for a duck after Rossouw and Dean Elgar’s epic 480-run stand for the second wicket on the day of that huge innings.

Dippenaar is well-placed to comment on the inconsistencies that have hampered Rossouw’s progress on the international stage thus far. For all Rossouw’s potential he has yet to nail down a permanent spot in either of the limited-overs formats, despite already having played 29 ODIs and 15 T20 internationals.

For every stirring performance, there has been a follow-up sabotaged by a rush of blood that opens the door to questions on whether the 26-year-old has the temperament to be successful over a long period of time at the highest level.

“I think with every young batsman, the ability to adapt to conditions and match situations is of paramount importance,” Dippenaar said.

“There’s no doubt that’s one of the biggest challenges Rilee faces in his career. But through experience he will learn to adapt to the situation and structure his game accordingly.

“He’s just too good a player not to learn those lessons.”

Rossouw showed promising signs, during last year’s home series against New Zealand, that the experience of playing in a high-pressure World Cup semi-final the previous season, has borne fruit. On pitches that were unfamiliar to everyone due to the series being played in August, Rossouw absorbed the responsibility of putting together a couple of good innings.

Unfortunately for Rossouw he sustained a stress fracture during that limited-overs series and could not build on the progress made. In fact, the injury set Rossouw back a great deal as he failed to rediscover his touch when he returned to the Proteas’ team at the start of this year.

The national selectors, though, have maintained their belief in Rossouw’s undeniable potential for the triangular series in the West Indies, which also includes world champions Australia.

And with Proteas T20 captain Faf du Plessis ruled out of Friday’s opening match against the hosts in Guyana with a finger injury, Dippenaar believes that could just be the little bit of luck Rossouw needs to kick-start his international career.

“Sometimes you just need that break – pardon the pun – to get yourself going. Rilee was playing well up until his injury last season and now Faf’s broken finger will give him a chance again. History, especially with this team, shows us that an injury often opens the way for someone to come in and make a really big statement,” Dippenaar said.

Rossouw opened the batting in South Africa’s only warm-up game on Sunday against the West Indies A side in Trinidad and Tobago, but did not get his tour off to a good start with a three-ball duck. Dippenaar did not pay much attention to this, saying “it’s only a warm-up game”. He believes the conditions will be a lot different in Guyana.

“Having opened the batting (and batted No 3) in the Caribbean in the past, I often thought it was the best time to bat. It’s a bit like the sub-continent, where the pitches often get lower and slower the longer the innings wears on. Rilee likes the ball coming on to the bat, so the new ball is nice and hard and up front is the ideal time to have a real go,” he explained. - Cape Times

From a young age, Rilee Rossouw has been touted for an extended and prosperous international career.

Original source: It’s time for Rilee to step up