Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Hendrik Erasmus “Rassie” van der Dussen is not a Johnnycome-lately of SA cricket.

After all, he was the Mzansi Super League’s (MSL’s) top scorer with 469 runs in 11 innings at 58.62 while occupying the same position in the Four-Day Franchise Series last season with 959 runs at 73.76 in 18 innings.

He has been around the domestic block for just under 11 years and his selection to the Proteas ODI squad for the Pakistan series that starts on January 19 in Port Elizabeth is the final piece in the Proteas’ World Cup puzzle.

It has been a tough one for national convener of selectors Linda Zondi to put together since AB de Villiers retired.

However, it is clear the search has narrowed down to the one batsman who can not only float in the order, but ensure the score moves along in the crucial 11th-39th over middle period in ODIs.

“It’s been a case where Van der Dussen has always done well in the franchise system. More importantly, he’s the type of player who can bat anywhere from No 3 to No 6. When you look at his white-ball record [3,094 runs at 43.57 in 82 innings], it shows he’s a guy who has really pushed hard in terms of being recognised,” Zondi said.

“What you saw in the MSL was just top-up. We’ve picked him before in the T20 squad, so his potential has already been recognised. We don’t want to leave out anyone who we feel may play a role in the World Cup, especially in the middle order. We need to have options.”

While the current squad have been picked for the first two games, Aiden Markram is the one big batting name who will sit out the early encounters while JP Duminy and Lungi Ngidi have not been considered because of injury.

Hashim Amla makes a welcome return after missing the Australian limited overs junket because of injury while Cape Cobras seamer Dane Paterson has also been selected.

Zondi said Van der Dussen’s selection is not haphazard but seeks to plug any selectorial gap they may have missed recently.

SA have 10 matches before their opening World Cup encounter against England at the Oval on May 30.

“By the time the Sri Lanka series comes, that’s our last five games and by then, we want to be 99 or even 100% sure in terms of the squad going to the World Cup. If we’re discussing one or two players for the Sri Lanka series, then we’re missing the point,” Zondi said.

Proteas ODI squad

Faf du Plessis (Titans, capt), Hashim Amla (Cobras), Quinton de Kock (Titans), Reeza Hendricks (Lions), Imran Tahir (Dolphins), Heinrich Klaasen (Titans), David Miller (Dolphins), Dane Paterson (Cobras), Andile Phehlukwayo (Dolphins), Dwaine Pretorius (Lions), Kagiso Rabada (Lions), Tabraiz Shamsi (Titans), Dale Steyn (Titans), Rassie van der Dussen(Lions).