Saturday, November 3, 2018

Big questions ahead the Australia ODI series

Due to the ever expanding international fixture list, it is becoming more and more difficult to squeeze full tours in, so international teams have taken to completing tours in pieces. Not the worst idea, but it does mean we are left with things like seemingly arbitrary one-week tours, over three games, which have no discernible benefit. But, this is the lead up to a World Cup year after all, and with that comes a few questions that need to be answered before the big thing actually happens.

Is Aiden Markram our answer at #4? 

The retirement of AB de Vlliers has created a power vacuum of sorts in the national team. Now shorn of the value of one of the five greatest ODI players of all time as well as unarguably the most destructive, possibly of all time, but most definitely in his era, the team has spluttered along a bit at the death. It must be said,that AB was present for when India completely ran us over at home, 5-1, in the ODIs earlier this year, with only our Pink ODI kit's patented invulnerability saving us from a complete whitewash.
Aiden Markram has been earmarked as a future potential superstar from a young age, and he certainly had the mother of all coming out parties last summer, scoring hundreds for fun in the Tests, including a pair of centuries in the series vs Australia against arguably the best Test bowling attack in the world at the moment (it would be an incorrect argument, but still worth debating). His incredible introduction to Test cricket has unfortunately not been matched in ODI. As it currently stands, young Markram averages 24, and has shown very little skill or industry against spin in ODI,  given the fact that India are amongst the favourites for the World Cup, and they always go in with at least a two -headed spin monster,it would be preferable if Aiden showed a bit of skill against Australia's spinners, who, with respect, will be a bit of a step down. Batting at #4 does include a significant time spent in the middle overs, which are historically very spin-dominant. With the modern game having turned 300 into a par total, it is definitely a cricket truism that one can't just survive in the middle overs, one has to thrive. For this series, though, I'd be happy with Markram just surviving. We also, know nothing about his death hitting, but that's the end of cricket games. No point in wondering if the boy can swim at the deep end if he keeps drowning halfway into the journey. Reeza Hendricks made a century on debut, And AB has gone on record as saying that he'd like to see him be given a run. That puts a lot of pressure on Markram to succeed. Lets hope it makes a diamond in two weeks.

Who will be our second all-rounder?
Andile Phehlukwayo is definitely the incumbent for one of the all rounder spots. Don't be angry about it, he just is. At an average of 27 with the bat, and 33 with the ball, his numbers are just fine for the number 8 all-rounder who is entrusted with hitting a few lusty blows and also bowling some over in the middle and at the death.
The real question, one which one could argue is as much a question of team composition as it is player selection, is one regarding who should be the second all-rounder. Conventional wisdom suggests that it will be either one of Dwaine Pretorius or Chris Morris, but in surprisingly selecting Farhaan Behardien, the selectors have brought another name into the hat. Farhaan definitely isn't the bowler Pretorius or Morris are, but he is a better batsman, or at least has shown more wares internationally, than the two of them. Could he be used as a batting all-rounder at #7, with him and JP trying to bowl 10-15 overs a game? It would certainly be risky from management, especially given the fact that calling Behardien a bowler is basically as far as imagination is willing to stretch, and maybe even too far.. It must be said that it isn't as if Morris and Pretorius have made compelling cases for their inclusions. They certainly haven't made themselves undroppable. They both average in the teens with the bat, and Morris is a rather expansive bowler, especially for someone who doesn't take that many wickets. With Wiaan Mulder back in January, there is a strong possibility that only one of these men will be on the plane to England and Wales.

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