TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
ONCE he was done telling the press how his team had gone about completing a 5-0 thrashing of Australia in their one-day series at Newlands on Wednesday, captain Faf du Plessis took a seat on the side of the room.
He plopped an ankle over a knee, folded his arms across his chest, allowed his face to melt into a wide smile, cast a sideways glance to the top table, and handed over to Rilee Rossouw – who wasn’t supposed to play in the rubber and ended up as SA’s leading runscorer.
Rossouw replaced the injured AB de Villiers in the squad.
Then Hashim Amla was ruled out of the first match with flu.
Enter Rossouw to score 63.
On the insistence of the selectors Rossouw kept Amla out of the team for the second game – and scored 75.
But Rossouw saved his best for last, drilling 122 on Wednesday to help SA win by 31 runs and achieve the first 5-0 whitewash of the Australians by any opponents.
Was he relieved that, having made five ducks in his first 10 ODIs, he had finally proved he could play at the highest level?
“I didn’t think that, but thank you for making me feel relieved,” Rossouw said. “I’m just happy I got given a good run.
“I keep thanking ‘Hash’ for falling sick in the first game.”
Rossouw knows all about physical frailty, having had to overcome a stress fracture of the foot and a dislocated shoulder since September.
He was, in fact, playing through pain on Wednesday.
How, he was asked at Newlands, was his finger in the wake of a blow he took while fielding in the fourth match of the series at St George’s Park on Sunday?
The first part of his answer was a question directed at a Cricket SA media officer nearby: “Can I answer truthfully?”
Then he spilt the beans.
“My finger is fractured in a couple of places. But it’s not the first time I’ve played with a fractured finger.
“I had a couple of (anti-inflammatories) but everything went smoothly. It didn’t really affect me while I was batting but there was a bit of pain.”
Rossouw, SA’s fourth centurion of the series, is the kind of player Du Plessis wants in his dressingroom.
“We didn’t expect 5-0, we just wanted to beat the Aussies,” Du Plessis said.
“When we got to 3-0 it was important for us to make sure we didn’t take our foot off the gas. We wanted to make history and we did that. It’s a special feeling.
“As always with these things, they don’t make much sense now. But I’m hoping (on Thursday) when we wake up we will see this as an incredible team effort and achievement that will last a long time.
“I am incredibly proud to sit here and be captain of a side that’s done that. The greatest thing is that we were a team right through the series.
“To have a different guys put their hands up throughout the series, that’s what you want as a captain.”