Professional sport is sometimes just like modelling: if you’re not slim and fit, you’re lazy.
If Rob Frylinck introduces himself to the wider cricketing public in the Proteas’ T20 series against Bangladesh, which starts on Thursday in Bloemfontein, he might leave that impression.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
“People who don’t know him will be prejudiced initially. Rob’s a burly guy. He always has and will be,” said Dave Nosworthy, the former South Africa ‘A’ and Highveld Lions coach.
“But I can assure you, it you want to go to war, Rob should be the first guy on your list. His work ethic is incredible.”
Nosworthy is a perfect judge of Frylinck’s character because he was the man that resurrected 33-year-old Dolphins all-rounder’s career.
In 2008, Frylinck was stuck in domestic cricket’s so-called desert.
Out of contract at Kingsmead, he was kicking his heels.
Then the Lions came down to the East Coast for a domestic match.
“I knew about him and I knew his situation,” said Nosworthy.
“I made contact with him and asked him if he wanted to come to our training session and be a net bowler.”
Frylinck didn’t hesitate and impressed with such a great attitude that Nosworthy simply had to give him a chance.
“I have a real soft spot for player’s who’ve done their apprenticeship. I like players that aren’t flavour of the month when they’re 19 and have to work their socks off to get somewhere,” he said.
“I made Rob a deal: if I commit to him, he needed to commit to me. There weren’t any initial promises. I encouraged him to come up to Gauteng for a trial period. Rob was great. He wasn’t receiving a cent but he didn’t miss a single training session. It was inevitable that he’d get a contract. He eventually became a match-winner for the Lions.”
Nowadays, Frylinck is back at the Dolphins but he’s arguably indispensable.
He remains one of domestic cricket’s most skillful all-rounders in limited overs and has flourished as a very effective wicket-taker in four-day cricket.
Last season he destroyed his former Lions teammates with a match haul of 14/62 in a Sunfoil Series game.
“Rob will never be an athlete. I tried to make him one and failed. That’s not who he is,” said Nosworthy.
“But there isn’t a guy who works harder. He’s got excellent skills and I’m thrilled he’s got a chance to play international cricket.”