If you had asked Rilee Rossouw where he would have been in 2022, this is far away from the answer you would have get. The rollercoaster of a ride that he has had, Rossouw has gone from playing in the English county to becoming an integral part of this Proteas setup, 340 runs at 68 with a strike rate of 184.78.
But the process wasn’t overnight, it took plenty of runs, plenty of practise sessions for the southpaw to get to where he is now.
For the longest time, Rossouw was earmarked as someone who would go on to emulate the legendary cricketer, AB de Villiers. But unfortunately, talent only took him as far, and once he took the Kolpak deal, his career almost came to an end with South Africa. 2022 changed it all.
“No, not at all,” Rossouw said when asked whether he expected himself with the South African team at the World Cup.
“Sometimes things go your way. And this year has been like an unbelievable roller coaster ride for me. So happy. So proud to be sitting here. Never thought about it in a million years.”
On Thursday, the left-hander crafted his way, sometimes even muscled his way to his second T20I century, over the last two months. And when he brought up a three-figure score against Bangladesh in Sydney, the emotions was all over the place.
“I'm a very passionate man. And getting across the line, it meant a lot to me. It means a lot to my family back home. It's just been a good roller coaster ride. Just to play with South Africa again, it's been amazing.”
“I think that definitely does help. I was there for, what, three years, if I remember correctly, and two of them I was leading run scorer. I played against a lot of the boys back home and with a lot of them,” he added.
On asked about whether this century pipped the one he scored against India, Rossouw was left confused, stating that choosing between the two would be tough for him.
“I would say probably the one against India was probably a lot more special -- not a lot more, but more special. It's difficult to say which one is more special. I think they both really are close to my heart.”
“Today just on the main stage at the World Cup probably also -- it's tough to call which one is more special, but, like I said, very tough today.”
Rossouw is one the rarest talents in the country, given his ability to play spin. The southpaw admitted that the experience in Asia, mainly Pakistan, Bangladesh and Dubai helped him improve his game against spin.
“I think it's somewhere I've definitely proved, because I've played a lot of cricket in the sub-continent, Pakistan as well, Bangladesh, even in Dubai. So I have improved my game a lot over these last couple of years. I feel more comfortable now than what I used to maybe when I was in my 20s.
“I try and simplify things and try to keep it as simple as possible. Doesn't matter where or what stage you're playing on, World Cup, going back home, domestic. Just trying to see the white ball and hit the little white ball. Doesn't matter who is running. Obviously people have made names for themselves in cricket in T20, and you've got to take it into consideration. But at the end of the day someone is bowling the ball to you and you're going to hit it,” he added.
It was always going to be natural for someone like Rossouw to assume that he would never don the South African jersey for a second stint but the fate has been such, he has made a strong comeback.
“I think it does. When you give up your right to play for your country and you expect, okay, that is going to be my last chance. So any moment you've got to cherish that you play for your country. And it's like I've mentioned before, super proud for not just for me but for my family back home.
So it's been a great journey. It's been a long journey. But it's not finished yet, hopefully. So we're taking it one game at a time and hopefully get another opportunity to do well.
Rossouw is not finished, he is just getting started in what could be a monumental phase in South African cricketing history.