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Rossouw comes in from the cold with eye on summer Tests

Tweeting nearly cost Rilee Rossouw a chance to play for South Africa. It was 2011 and like so many other South Africans, Rossouw, then 21, took the team's quarter-final defeat to New Zealand at the World Cup hard. He published his disappointment in 140 characters.

The post has since been deleted but one of the words used in it has not been forgotten: "chokers". It's a term often used for the South African team by frustrated fans and the media. But when Rossouw used it, the consequences appeared to be dire.

He later deleted the tweet but by then several South African players had seen it or been told about it, and even a winter break couldn't clear it from their memories.

The next summer was Gary Kirsten's first season as coach of the South African team and he ushered it in with a team-building camp at the luxury Arabella Golf Estate in the Western Cape. All the national players and those on the fringes, including Rossouw, were invited.

It was there that Rossouw discovered the impact his remark had left. A source close to him revealed that while some players saw the lighter side of the tweet, most were so offended they refused to even shake his hand. The source felt Rossouw's career was put on the back burner for more than two years as a result.

It's impossible to say whether that was actually the case, but his numbers at the time make you wonder why he wasn't picked sooner. In the 2009-10 season, he was the leading run scorer in the first-class competition, with 1189 runs at 66.05 - a feat in itself because only five other players have scored more than 1000 runs in a franchise season in South Africa. In 2010-11, Rossouw was second in the list of top run-getters in the List A competition, behind Faf du Plessis, who was picked for the 2011 World Cup.

Dean Elgar was picked to tour England in 2012 and Quinton de Kock and Farhaan Behardien to play New Zealand in early 2013 while Rossouw was left to toil in domestic cricket. He remained high on the run-scoring lists and was picked for South Africa A. Then it took a headline-grabbing performance to get the attention of the national selectors.

On a South Africa A tour to Australia in August 2014, in an unofficial Test, Rossouw scored 231 and starred in a 343-run partnership with Temba Bavuma after their team had slipped to 59 for 4. South Africa A went on to win the match by eight wickets and the series 1-0.

Although his runs had come in the longer format, there was only place for Rossouw in the limited overs. He was picked in South Africa's squad to play an ODI tri-series in Zimbabwe. But his introduction to international cricket could not have been worse.

In his first ten ODIs, between August 2014 and January 2015, Rossouw was dismissed for a duck five times, including twice against Zimbabwe. He became a laughing stock and many questioned his selection to the 2015 World Cup squad until the second ODI against West Indies, in Johannesburg.

The match is remembered for AB de Villiers' world-record 31-ball hundred, but for Rossouw it was the day he showed he belonged. Quinton de Kock was injured, so Rossouw was pushed up the order and he made his maiden international century in a 247-run opening stand with Hashim Amla.

In the fifth ODI against West Indies, Rossouw, now back at No. 4, made 132. In a full-strength line-up, his chances of getting a regular run will always be slim but Rossouw seemed to be positioning himself as a batsman comfortable in the top as well as the middle order.

"From when he was a youngster, he dreamt of playing for South Africa and he always had a lot of confidence in his own ability," said Pat Botha, Rossouw's friend an allrounder with the Knights franchise. "He just did what he had to do."

But then injuries interrupted his fine form. Rossouw was ruled out of the limited-overs' leg of South Africa tour to India at the end of 2015 with a stress fracture to his foot. He recovered in time to play England at home in early 2016 and then travelled to the Caribbean for a tri-series in June. In his second match there, he dislocated his shoulder and had to return home, missing out on a T20 stint with Leicestershire as a result.

He had only scored two half-centuries in 11 innings after the 2015 World Cup and was not due to play against Australia at home until de Villiers was ruled out.

Rossouw was called up as a replacement even though he had initially been left out of the one-day squad so he could have more time to recover from his shoulder surgery. After he was rushed into the XI when Amla took ill before the first ODI against Australia, in Centurion, Rossouw scored 63.

Amla recovered in time for the second ODI, and du Plessis, the stand-in captain for de Villiers, was keen to have him back, but the selectors stuck with Rossouw. This time he scored 75.

In both matches, Rossouw was set and should have gone on to get a hundred but his shot selection let him down. However, he said he was confident about the way he chose to play and called the reverse sweep "my shot" even though it led to his downfall right off the first ball he faced from legspinner Adam Zampa in Centurion.

When Amla returned to the XI, Rossouw was moved down the order and in the fifth ODI he converted his good start into a third one-day century. What was perhaps more impressive was that he scored those runs with a broken little finger, fractured while fielding in the previous match.

When South Africa were leading the series 2-0 after the second game, Rossouw teased Australia, saying if they don't bounce back maybe they "don't deserve to be the best team in the world".

Rossouw may get plenty of lip from Australian players for his remarks if he makes his Test debut down under this month. But that looks unlikely since coach Russell Domingo has said that the Test batting line-up is settled.

However Rossouw is very familiar with unlikely possibilities. Five years ago, the possibility of a player who had dared call his team-mates chokers going on to represent South Africa had seemed very unlikely. Look at where he is now.