For­eign-based Boks keen to come home Proteas still have a se­ries draw to chase

Sunday Times - - Sport - By LIAM DEL CARME By LIAM DEL CARME

● The Spring­boks will get help from abroad when they take on Eng­land in June.

Some of South Africa’s for­eign le­gion are ap­par­ently will­ing to re­turn be­fore mid-year, which will make them el­i­gi­ble to play against the Six Na­tions cham­pi­ons. SA Rugby pol­icy is that for­eign-based play­ers with fewer than 30 tests are in­el­i­gi­ble for se­lec­tion. Play­ers can cir­cum­vent that by briefly play­ing in the coun­try be­fore the June in­ter­na­tion­als.

“Quite a few guys want to come home. About five,” said SA Rugby pres­i­dent Mark Alexan­der with­out re­veal­ing their iden­ti­ties.

“They are fin­ish­ing up (in Europe). Some will be avail­able from the mid­dle of Su­per Rugby. They will be con­tracted to a prov­ince.

“They may not nec­es­sar­ily be ab­sorbed into Su­per Rugby but if they play here they are el­i­gi­ble,” said Alexan­der, who did not elab­o­rate on the iden­tity of the play­ers.

A player known to be com­ing off con­tract is in­flu­en­tial loose for­ward Duane Ver­meulen. Ver­meulen has played more than 30 tests and would be an au­to­matic se­lec­tion in a Bok match-day group of 23.

His club Toulon last month con­firmed he would be leav­ing the club but it has been re­ported that Ver­meulen may have a fi­nal fling abroad with a short-term deal in Ja­pan.

That means he will be out of con­tention for the Rugby Cham­pi­onships but he may still fea­ture against Eng­land in June.

His avail­abil­ity may af­fect who ul­ti­mately wears the cap­tain's arm­band.

When Alexan­der was asked whether War­ren White­ley would re­sume his role as cap­tain af­ter miss­ing the bulk of last sea­son through in­jury he said: “The coach will de­ter­mine whether he wants con­ti­nu­ity or whether he wants to change. I think it would be stupid to change it now, if you have a group of play­ers who can lead. There are a num­ber of play­ers who can lead the team.”

Mean­while, the Spring­bok man­age­ment team will be “lean and mean”, with greater re­liance on con­sul­tants.

Alexan­der said the coach­ing group is sup­posed to be fi­nalised in the next week or two. The group will have a new look about it af­ter Allister Coet­zee’s sack­ing, while as­sis­tant coach Franco Smith has also de­parted the scene hav­ing agreed to re­sume the top coach­ing job at the Chee­tahs.

What is ap­par­ent is that the new coach­ing group will have fewer per­ma­nent ap­pointees as SA Rugby tries to stay within bud­get. “It will be a lean and mean team,” said Alexan­der. “Do you need peo­ple on a full-time ba­sis? That's where you can bring con­sul­tants in.

“If the coach feels the team needs to brush up their skills un­der the high ball, then they can get a spe­cial­ist but then he leaves when he's done. He doesn’t have to be with the team all the time,” ex­plained Alexan­der. at the Wan­der­ers

● The Proteas sprung to life and for that they can partly thank the re­vi­tal­is­ing qual­i­ties of the rain that made for a start-stop fourth ODI and PinkDay here yes­ter­day.

Hav­ing gone 3-0 down in the se­ries the hosts were per­haps in need of some divine in­ter­ven­tion and much like last year they de­liv­ered a splen­did rear­guard ac­tion to snatch vic­tory from an im­prob­a­ble po­si­tion.

The win pre­vented In­dia from wrap­ping up the se­ries and the hosts can still deny the tourists hon­ours with vic­tory in the two re­main­ing ODIs.

Two rain in­ter­rup­tions yes­ter­day meant they had to cut to the chase with a Duck­worth/Lewis re­vised tar­get in re­ply to In­dia's daunt­ing, yet tan­ta­lis­ing 289/7 in 50. The Proteas made 207/5, get­ting home with 15 balls to spare.

Un­like ear­lier in the se­ries when In­dia had the Proteas’ bat­ters in a flat spin, the tourists couldn’t get the same pur­chase on the slightly damp ball.

Hein­rich Klaasen, 43 not out off 27 balls, and David Miller, 39 (off 28), got the Proteas within touch­ing dis­tance be­fore Andile Phehluk­wayo, 23 (off five), un­leashed some fire and fury.

Klaasen got the man of the match award. Hashim Amla (33) and AB de Vil­liers (26) partly laid a foun­da­tion ear­lier in the in­nings but both fell at in­op­por­tune mo­ments. When De Vil­liers was caught at fine leg the Proteas cause al­most seemed lost.

In­dia, how­ever, in par­tic­u­lar spin­ner Yuzven­dra Cha­hal, were left to rue an el­e­men­tary er­ror when he bowled Miller with a no-ball with the bats­man on seven and the Proteas wob­bling on what would have been 106/5 in the 18th over.

Ear­lier Shikhar Dhawan (109) in con­cert with Vi­rat Kohli (75) had pro­pelled In­dia into a po­si­tion of prom­ise.

Few play­ers go about scor­ing runs with so much verve, vigour and in­tent as Kohli. He is con­sumed by the de­sire to present the mid­dle of the bat as firmly to the ball as pos­si­ble.

As for Dhawan, the mid­dle of his bat wasn’t a pre­req­ui­site for longevity at the crease. The in­side edge of his bat proved quite prof­itable, but then it would if the ball keeps evad­ing the keeper.

He stuck it out and be­came the first In­dian bats­man to reach three fig­ures in his 100th ODI.

In­dia’s mo­men­tum, how­ever, was bro­ken by an ear­lier shower. The play­ers left the field mo­ments af­ter In­dia reached an im­pe­ri­ous 200/2 off 34.2 overs. They spent 52 min­utes off be­fore con­di­tions were deemed safe.

In­dia didn't fin­ish with the flour­ish they had hoped for, in part due to a catch Spi­derman would have been proud of by stand-in skip­per Ai­den Markram at cover when he got rid of dan­ger­ous Hardik Pandya.

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