Proteas need a tortoise to Rabada’s hare
In the growing debate about who should be Kagiso Rabada’s new ball partner for the Proteas in one-day internationals (ODIs), what with the ICC Champions Trophy looming, the answer may well not be the sexiest option.
The gifted but inconsistent Wayne Parnell actively auditioned to fill the Kyle Abbott-shaped vacancy in the first two ODIs against Sri Lanka, while Chris Morris has been clearing his throat for the same role from the vantage point of first-change bowler.
But according to Highveld Lions bowling coach Gordon Parsons the catch with “Parney” and “Morrie” is their tendency to speculate in the accumulation of wickets – code for they can be a little expensive.
“They create opportunities but they have a tendency to go for a few runs,” says Parsons. “Rabada may be exceptional but he’s still 21 and learning the game, so having him and one of Parney or Morrie could mean the opposition is 60 for none after 10 overs.
“It could also be 60/4, but you want that consistency.”
After wondering out loud about the state of Morne Morkel’s back, (“He’s got the experience but he hasn’t played a lot lately, has he? He’s got the pace, bounce, can get wickets and you can’t really hit him.”), he settles on the unheralded figure of Lions and Proteas all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius.
“If you’ve got KG [Rabada] bowling at 150 clicks and taking wickets, a strike bowler, the guy you need at the other end is Dwaine Pretorius,” he explains. “He bowls at around 130, hits his areas, moves it and picks up a stick or two.
“Having him allows you to have another out and out seamer like Parney or Morrie going flat out for wickets. We did it at the Lions when he was bowling with Viljoen and Morris, Pretorius makes batsmen play more, swings it and makes it bounce – he is very effective with the white new ball.”
Eager to show that he’s not entirely biased, Parsons scanned the South African bowling landscape for other candidates in new Proteas sensation Lungi Ngidi, recent test debutant Duanne Olivier, the Warriors’ Sisanda Magala and forgotten Proteas quick Marchant de Lange.
Twenty-year-old Ngidi, out for a few weeks with a stomach injury sustained during the third T20 international against Sri Lanka, is probably the name uppermost in most people’s minds to partner Rabada, but Parsons reckons they’re too similar.
“We’re all excited about him since the first day we saw him,” he says. “He’s like Steyn or Rabada, the first time you see him you know he’s got it. I don’t know him well but I feel in two years he’ll be a lot like Rabada, who’s now in the top 10 in the world rankings.
“But giving him the responsibility of leading his country’s attack might be a bit too soon. You want to keep him in the squad so he can develop by bowling at better players, but he’s injured now and you don’t want to push him too far.”
The ultra-aggressive but laid-back Olivier gets a mention on the basis of his “brilliant” test debut against Sri Lanka at the Wanderers last month, but the real surprise is Magala being roped into the reckoning as well.
“Like Duanne he’s one of those guys that have done more first-class cricket than Ngidi, he’s also done a couple of [SA] A tours. I don’t know whether he can make the adjustment to international cricket, but we’ve seen an improvement in him at franchise level. He’s gone from wild and woolly to a pretty good player.”
While wondering out loud if the powers-that-be have written off De Lange, who introduced himself to international cricket with an eight-wicket haul, Parsons also provided ample reasons that could well be the case.
“Personally, I wouldn’t pick him because there’s enough raw pace in the Proteas team. Also his skill levels are probably not quite at the same level as the others.”