Rilee Rossouw and Reeza Hendricks have been a part of South Africa’s future ambitions from their first encounter on a cricket pitch when they were approximately 12 years old.
There was something so clear about them both that playing international cricket was not so much a goal as it was an entitlement.
Indeed, this has shown to be the case. They progressed practically simultaneously through the youth ranks at Free State and Griquas before teaming forces for the first time in the SA Schools XI in 2007. The following year, they lost the Under-19 World Cup final in Kuala Lumpur.
During the early years of their professional careers with the Eagles/Knights, when they terrorized domestic bowlers nearly for fun, their bond was solidified.
Their different styles made watching them together so captivating. Rossouw was the butcher with a scythe, but Hendricks purred with beauty and charm.
It ultimately resulted in Proteas call-ups within months of each other in 2014, at which point Hendricks was asked to explain why they enjoyed batting together so much.
“We are two distinct types of athletes. His game is entirely apart from mine, so we compliment one another. In the past, we have had success working together. Hendricks remarked at the time, “He strikes numerous spots.”
“There is little communication when we are both at the crease. We simply tell one another to have fun and play as they see fit.”
Both AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla were named as the successors to the South African batting dynasty that previously included royalty such as AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla. However, due to a number of reasons, neither has fully realized the immense potential that led to their nominations.
But now, as fate would have it, they are 33 years old and possibly closer to the conclusion of their careers than the beginning, and they have the chance to make amends for all their past mistakes by bringing the T20 World Cup home from Australia.
Since Rossouw’s return to the national team following his self-imposed Kolpak exile, they have relished their reunion tremendously.
Rossouw hammered 96 not out in his second game back during the second Twenty20 international against England in Cardiff. Neither player lost a beat and were perfectly in rhythm. It coincided with Hendricks’ best ever timing of the ball in international cricket, as the pair turned back the clock with a match-winning stand of 73 runs.
After being forced to open the batting in the absence of Quinton de Kock and captain Temba Bavuma in the warm-up match against New Zealand earlier this week, they scored 66 runs in only seven overs.
Rossouw praised his close friend after the Proteas’ second warm-up match against Bangladesh in Brisbane yesterday was called off owing to inclement weather.
“Reeza and I go back a very long way. It’s always a pleasure to bat with him, since he consistently produces something exceptional. Rossouw stated, “If he gets an opportunity at the World Cup, I hope he can bring his form and show the world who he is.”
He is a much better player now than he was before. We are all far better players than when we began. We have learned a great deal over our careers, particularly from each other and from our experiences.”
Even though Rossouw recently scored his first T20 international century and Hendricks has scored five half-centuries in his last seven international innings, there is still no indication as to whether the pair will have the opportunity to play together for the Proteas at the T20 World Cup.
There is little question, however, that should they be called upon, they will encourage one another to complete a project they began nearly two decades ago.