There's a new 'Rassie' on the block ... and he looks the part

Cape Town - 2018 has been the year of the Springbok recovery, and coach Rassie Erasmus has been central to the new-found optimism that currently surrounds the national rugby team. 

On Tuesday, South Africa was formally introduced to another 'Rassie' in the form of Proteas debutant Rassie van der Dussen

Now 29, the hard-hitting Lions batsman has been on the domestic scene for seven years and he was finally given his chance in the first T20I against Zimbabwe in East London. 

Van der Dussen did not disappoint. 

Coming in with the Proteas in trouble at 11/2, the lanky No 4 was calm, composed and capable as he helped the hosts post 160/6 from their 20 overs. 

Van der Dussen hit five 4s and one 6 in his 44-ball knock of 56 in a start to his international career that he would later describe as "near perfect"

The Proteas emerged as comfortable 34-run winners, and while Imran Tahir's 5/23 stole the headlines, Van der Dussen's contribution was equally valuable. 

A look at his first-class statistics clearly reveals the class of the player.

Van der Dussen finished the 2017/18 Sunfoil Series as the leading run-scorer in the format, while he averages 42.96 from his 105 first-class matches. 

In the shorter formats, Van der Dussen is just as impressive. 

He averages 43.57 from 84 List A matches and 34.48 from 71 T20s at strike rate of 127.33. 

Those numbers suggest that Van der Dussen could have been introduced to international cricket earlier, but the competition for places in the South Africa middle-order has been stiff for a long time now. 

There are, however, still some unanswered questions when it comes to what that middle order will look like at next year's World Cup in England.

Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy will take up four slots, but the likes of Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, Khaya Zondo, Christiaan Jonker and David Miller are all battling it out for what is likely to be two more specialist batting positions. 

He may not have been in the plans initially, but if Van der Dussen dishes up two more impressive performances in the next two T20Is on Friday and Sunday, then he will hope to be named in the ODI squad that will leave for Australia later in the month.

It is early days yet, but Van der Dussen looks like he belongs on the international stage.

Friday's second T20I will start at 18:00 in Potchefstroom.