Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Proteas Post-Lockdown Preview



Cricket is finally back in South Africa! It will be strange to watch our home summer with no crowds, especially during the New Year’s test, but it’s better than nothing (or in my case, watching IPL commentators talk about some car for the hundredth time). The summer begins with England’s limited overs tour. We lost the T20I series and drew the ODI series when England toured earlier this year. The matches, however, were great to watch, with Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock’s pleasing opening partnerships, and Lungi Ngidi displaying his death bowling skills.

Our fast bowlers have been unlucky with injuries in the recent past, but we should see all three of Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada start together at some point this summer, hopefully before the Test series against Sri Lanka. Rabada and Nortje have been excellent with Delhi Capitals in the IPL, while Ngidi has struggled at CSK but remains an amazing One-Day prospect with his death bowling abilities. Beuran Hendricks has looked good in some innings and brings much-needed variety to the pace battery. Junior Dala might not get as many chances as he’d like, but it’s a long summer and he has shown some potential in is international career so far. Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius will be competing for one spot, but some squad rotation should see both get a chance in this series. Glenton Stuurman has received his first call-up but will have to wait since Lutho Sipamla is also part of this large squad.

It is still strange to see de Kock leading the side, but he might just be the right person to lead the team as rebuild. His opening partnership with Bavuma has looked good so far, with both batsmen scoring briskly and running well between the wickets. Janneman Malan is off to a good start in his ODI career. He is likely to open with de Kock, with Bavuma fitting in at 3. Heinrich Klaasen was magnificent against Australia and will find a place in the lower middle order. Jon-Jon Smuts was frustrating all summer but finally got going towards the end, pulling off a good win over Australia. Kyle Verreynne should complete what looks like our most solid middle order in years. It was disappointing to see David Miller barely play in the IPL, but he will be raring to go. We obviously rate him. Rassie van der Dussen has been outstanding so far, averaging a casual 70 in ODIs. Pite van Biljon has also retained his place in the squad. Reeza Hendricks is back (yay) but might not make it to the XI right away, considering he is statistically the worst batsman in the side.

Imran Tahir’s ODI retirement and notable absence from the T20 squad means that the frontline spinner’s position is still up for grabs. All of Tabraiz Shamsi, Keshav Maharaj, Bjorn Foruin and George Linde have been named in both squads. Shamsi is probably the front-runner but is underwhelming on the field and with the bat. George Linde contributes more with the bat and was superb for the Cobras this week. He has played one test so far and is a good shout across all formats. He will be competing with Bjorn Fortuin, another left arm orthodox all-rounder and the youngest of the lot. Linde is better with the bat, Fortuin is more economical. Finally, Keshav Maharaj has been in and out of the limited overs squads but looks unlikely to take Fortuin’s place in the XI. Jon-Jon Smuts can bowl a full quota of overs but is the 4th left arm orthodox option in the squad!

On the other hand, while it's only Victor Mpitsang's first series since taking over as convener as selectors, leaving out Sisanda Magala and Aiden Markram and retaining Dala and Smuts is bizarre.

England have played more cricket recently, and other than the Proteas involved in the IPL, our only preparation so far has been the first round of the franchise series and that 3TC atrocity earlier this year. There’s a big mess at CSA to go with that, but we try to remain optimistic.

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Watch - South Africa chase down 438

Fifteen years ago, South Africa were set a then world-record 435 runs by Australia. Enjoy.