One of the most remarkable records in the limited overs game belongs to South Africa – South Africa have never won a knock-out game at a World Cup. Ever. To think of all the talent that they have fielded in cricket’s premier tournament through the years makes this statistic stand out even more. And they have come so close at times…
Still, 2015 is another opportunity to set the record straight and South Africa are travelling to Australia and New Zealand as one of the favourites to take the trophy home. It is almost inconceivable that they will fail to make it through to the semi-finals. Almost.
With modern day luminaries such as Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, South Africa should perform strongly. We have looked beyond their more vaunted stars, however, and singled out the 25 year old Rilee Rossouw as the one to keep your eye on.
He scored his maiden ODI century recently against West Indies, although his innings was somewhat overshadowed by de Villiers and his fastest ever ODI century. For Rossouw, the game represented a coming of age and a poke in the eye to his critics. A sluggish start to his international career had seen some calls for him to be dropped.
A second century against the West Indies has all but assured Rossouw of a place in the Proteas starting XI. Whilst his recent form has cemented his position, it has also placed a lot of pressure on him. Put simply, he will be expected to deliver at the World Cup.
From 14 ODIs (at the time of writing) that have yielded 416 runs at an average of 29.71, he has to kick on, and he will have to do so against the world’s best. It’s a daunting task, but after the strides he has made against the West Indies when the vultures were circling, it looks as though South Africa have unearthed another gem.
Amla, de Kock, du Plessis, Rossouw, Miller, de Villiers, Duminy… That’s arguably the strongest batting line up at the tournament. Rossouw needs to excel in such company. No pressure, then.
By Miles Reucroft