JOHANNESBURG – Just over two years since earning the Player of the Series award after South Africa whitewashed Australia, Rilee Rossouw said he has no intention at this stage of donning the Proteas cap again.
Rossouw is back in the country for a brief stint in the Mzansi Super League and will play the first two matches for the Tshwane Spartans, including the tournament opener against the Cape Town Blitz at Newlands tomorrow. Thereafter, he’ll resume his vacation.
Rossouw and Kyle Abbott caused major ructions in South African cricket two seasons ago when they agreed to take up three-year Kolpak contracts with English county Hampshire.
“Obviously I do miss playing for the national team but that’s the decision I made and I’m going to stick with it. I’m very happy and comfortable with where I am right now,” Rossouw said in Centurion yesterday.
Still just 29, Rossouw was widely touted as the man to replace AB de Villiers, and with the national team currently still struggling to fill that gap, many have again looked longingly in Rossouw’s direction.
“(I have) no regrets, it was a decision that wasn’t made overnight. There’s a lot of whos and whats I could talk about but it’s not the right time; my main focus is on the MSL.”
Rossouw is entering the final year of his Kolpak contract and with a handful of veteran Proteas batsmen expected to retire in the next 12-18 months, might he be tempted back?
“I’ve not thought about what to do after Kolpak, I’ve still got a year left and as I stand here right now, I probably just want to keep on extending. I’ve thought many a time (about coming back to SA and playing for the Proteas) but I’m sticking to my decision for now.”
Seeing him and De Villiers in the same team this weekend will probably leave many South Africans muttering “what could have been”, and Rossouw, who played 36 ODIs - including six at the 2015 World Cup - and 15 T20 Internationals, is looking to make an impression.
“A week ago I was still on holiday and the moment they phoned me up I said I was very, very happy to come and take part in the MSL. I’m only here for the first two games but I’m very excited; it’s only a short time, but if I can make a big impact in that time, that is something I would strive to do for the Spartans.”
Rossouw has played in T20 competitions in England, India and Bangladesh and believes the MSL has the ingredients to become a successful addition to the calendar.
“I’m optimistic. I hope it expands and becomes one of the top T20 competitions. It will be great for SA players to face other internationals and get exposure and experience in this tournament. I hope this is a very successful tournament and good things will come.”
The Spartans start with three away matches: a double-header in the Western Cape against the Blitz tomorrow and the Paarl Rocks on Sunday, before a trip up the coast to face one of their own in Albie Morkel, who will captain the Durban Heat against them on Wednesday.@shockerhess
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