If Rilee Rossouw wants to return to the Proteas set-up, he needs to do it in the same way that Simon Harmer did.
Harmer left South African cricket on a Kolpak contract before Rossouw and, during his time abroad, undoubtedly grew as a cricketer.
What Harmer did
While in England, Harmer let it be known that he felt he was good enough to play for South Africa.
However, it was only when he returned to South Africa and started winning matches at first-class level that the selectors took notice.
There was very little debate surrounding the issue because Harmer had proven himself to be among the best spinners in South Africa, especially in the red-ball game.
What Rossouw could do
Rossouw has also returned to South Africa, slotting into the Free State team, but is yet to light up the domestic scene.
He has enjoyed a great T20 Blast in the United Kingdom, but the competition isn’t an accurate barometer for Proteas selection, given the competition’s standard.
While South African competitions might not necessarily be better than the T20 Blast, the benefit from a selectors’ point of view is that in our domestic cricket most of the players competing are eligible for Proteas selection.
This makes it easy for selectors to see who is rising to the top – and who can contribute.
At Free State…
While Rossouw is a former international, it has been a long time since he played at the highest-level, and his past form as a Proteas player is now irrelevant.
His choice of union could be a blessing or a curse, as playing in the Free State is generally good for a top batter’s average, but also means that he will be asked to really pile on the runs.
In last season’s One Day Cup, Rossouw finished 21st on the top-scorers list, having played six matches out of a possible eight – and was fourth among the Knights’ top run-scorers.
Rossouw enjoyed a good run of form in South Africa’s domestic T20 tournament, though. Forcing his way back into the Proteas team in this format is a realistic goal.
Open with de Kock?
If in good form, Rossouw could make for an interesting opening partner to Quinton de Kock in the short format – and might improve a T20 side that only needs a bit of X-factor to be world-beaters. The concern might be that the CSA T20 KO tournament was very short.
Rossouw needs to make a stronger case than others because of his absence, but he shouldn’t be punished for the decisions of the past. If he can make the runs and help the team, Rossouw should get his shot.
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