Following what was perhaps South Africa's worst-ever World Cup campaign last year, skipper Faf du Plessis identified middle-order star Rassie van der Dussen as a man with the right ingredients for international captaincy.
Van der Dussen was perhaps the best positive to emerge in an otherwise dismal tournament for the Proteas. He came back with his reputation enhanced, striking 311 runs at an average of over 62.
Van der Dussen quickly established himself as a reliable batsman after his inclusion in the ODI set up. He also managed to live up to the billing of being AB de Villiers' replacement.
The management also backed him, after his impressive ODI performances, for a spot in the World Cup squad ahead of de Villiers, who wanted a late comeback spot in the team. While Rassie had big shoes to fill, he has certainly delivered.
While Quinton de Kock has been with the Proteas national team since 2013, and was appointed the limited-overs captain, van der Dussen seems to be the right fit for the Test team.
Rassie van der Dussen, 31, was given his maiden Test call-up against a formidable England team in the 2018/19 Basil D. Oliveira Trophy. Once again, he emerged as significant contributors to their team, despite a 3-1 series loss.
He scored three half-centuries, with a best of 98, in his first eight knocks in the format. That England series also saw the last of du Plessis as captain of the next team.
Late bloomer Rassie van der Dussen deserves Test captaincy
While the frontrunners for the vacant captaincy slot seems to be revolving around Aiden Markram and Temba Bavuma, van der Dussen deserves it the most.
As a cricketer, van der Dussen has traveled to places afar to play cricket, as a breakthrough in the national team was tough with the likes of Amla, de Villiers, and du Plessis still playing. A classic Mark Ramprakash-like tale — a domestic legend, failing to break into the national team.
Van der Dussen played international T20 leagues like PSL, CPL, and the Global T20 Canada league to force a comeback. When the time finally arrived in late 2018 in a T20 against Zimbabwe, he made his mark and has not looked back since.
Van der Dussen's domestic track-record is also quite impressive. He has slammed 7,677 runs in 119 matches, scoring 16 centuries. Van der Dussen's resilience and determination to dig in, even in the most abject of situations, makes him stand out from the pack.
He has passed through the thick and thin of international T20 leagues and first-class cricket with flying colors.
Despite lack of captaincy experience, van der Dussen is a leader
Rassie van der Dussen may not have any captaincy experience to date, but his leadership abilities have come to the fore on many occasions. In his first Test match against England, van der Dussen scored a vital fifty in his second innings, enabling South Africa to take the game out of England's grasp. His effort came after the South African top order collapsed, and more importantly — he scored at an impressive strike-rate of 76.12.
Similarly, in the last Test match at the Wanderers, van der Dussen put up a resilient fight in the second innings against a penetrative English attack, slamming an impressive 98 to save face for his team.
As much as he is credited for those knocks, he also deserves credit for the strike-rate at which he scores. In many ways, he is doing precisely what de Villiers did at number 5.
After du Plessis' torrid international run, van der Dussen has emerged as a reliable, stable middle-order batsman with good leadership qualities. His vast experience in both first-class cricket and international T-20 leagues makes him unique at 31.
While Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram may have time to grow and develop, Rassie certainly looks the best fit right now. He has everything in him to become a great successor to du Plessis.