Rilee Rossouw’s Sydney love affair reignites Proteas’ World Cup challenge

Rilee Rossouw celebrates reaching a century against Bangladesh at the T20 World Cup. Photo: Saeed Kahn

Rilee Rossouw celebrates reaching a century against Bangladesh at the T20 World Cup. Photo: Saeed Kahn

Published Oct 27, 2022


Cape Town - Brian Lara named his daughter after the famous east coast town of Australia. If Rilee Rossouw has any more children he may well call them Sydney too.

There seems to be something about the famous old ground that appeals to dashing southpaws. Lara, of course, struck his maiden Test century that morphed into a mammoth 277 at the SCG.

On Thursday morning, through his talent and fearlessness, Rossouw added to the legend by striking South Africa’s maiden T20 World Cup century.

It was a compilation of ramps, switches, reverses and uncomplicated power that lit up this buccaneering innings of 109 off 54 balls (7x4, 8x6). To put Rossouw’s dominance into context, he outscored the entire Bangladesh team by eight runs as they fell miserably short of South Africa’s 205/5.

Sydneysiders have though seen the brilliance of Rossouw before. Seven years ago, when still a wet-behind-the-ears rookie, he was the catalyst to another great World Cup innings when AB de Villiers tore into the West Indies.

Much water has flowed under the Sydney Harbour bridge since then and it is now almost incomprehensible to contemplate that were it not for Brexit that rescinded Rossouw’s Kolpak status, and engineered his return home, the now 33-year-old may never have graced such a global stage again.

“No, not at all,” Rossouw answered when asked if he thought he was ever coming back to the SCG for a World Cup.

“When you give up your right to play for your country and you expect, Okay, that is going to be my last chance. Never thought about it (coming back) in a million years.

“But sometimes things go your way. And this year has been like an unbelievable roller coaster ride for me. So happy. Proud to be sitting here."

It would be easy, perhaps valid, to suggest that Bangladesh may have shown greater discipline - they sent down four no-balls and conceded five penalty runs - with the ball and in the field, but that would be to overlook Rossouw and, equally, Quinton de Kock’s magnificence.

Cut from an equally aggressive cloth, the two lefties laced the Bangladeshi attack from the moment they came together at the fall of Temba Bavuma’s wicket at the conclusion of the first over.

De Kock was equally brutal in his 38-ball 63 (7x4, 3x6) as the pair burnt up the World Cup record books with a 168-run partnership.

“I probably wouldn't want to bowl to myself or Quinton de Kock. We compliment each other so well,” Rossouw said.

“I looked at our wagon-wheels. He scored everything behind square and I scored in front. We compliment each other well and put the bowlers under some real pressure.”

But it was not just the batters that enjoyed the time out in the Sydney sun after their Hobart washout. The bowlers burnt off some pent-up energy, particularly Anrich Nortje (4/10) and Tabraiz Shamsi (3/20).

Nortje’s raw pace rattled the Tigers so much so that captain Shakib-al-Hasan was sufficiently frazzled to not even request an LBW review despite the ball pitching way outside leg stump.

Shami’s return to Proteas line-up, and, crucially, good form, bodes well with sterner tests that are still on the horizon for Mark Boucher’s team for Rossouw closed off with “the journey is not finished yet”.