Proteas’ bowl­ing well stocked, now for the bat­ting

Sunday Tribune - - SPORT - STU­ART HESS stu­art.hess@inl.co.za

LIT­TLE fault can be found with South Africa’s bowl­ing over the past cou­ple of weeks against Zim­babwe, and its an area where the depth and qual­ity is strong.

It would be easy to dis­miss the ef­forts of the South African bowlers by say­ing “it’s only Zim­babwe”, but that would be pay­ing a great dis­ser­vice to the ef­forts of Dale Steyn, Lungi Ngidi, Kag­iso Rabada and Im­ran Tahir.

In ad­di­tion, when they’ve ro­tated out of the team, Dane Pater­son, Rob­bie Frylinck and Andile Phehluk­wayo have all per­formed to the req­ui­site stan­dards, pro­vid­ing proof that there are in­deed a lot of op­tions for the se­lec­tors to con­sider as they be­gin the process of whit­tling down the num­bers for the 15-man squad for the World Cup next year.

The only dis­ap­point­ment has been Tabraiz Shamsi, but the left-arm wrist spin­ner’s first three overs in the T20 in Potchef­strooom on Fri­day hinted at a re­turn to form.

One man who’s not been in the mix over the past few weeks is Chris Mor­ris, but his per­for­mances for the Ti­tans at the start of the sea­son sug­gest he’s taken to heart the mes­sages from Ot­tis Gib­son.

He should come into con­sid­er­a­tion for the tour to Aus­tralia with his ‘all-rounder’ skills hope­fully adding depth in the seam bowl­ing all­rounder cat­e­gory where Phehluk­wayo and Wi­aan Mul­der have been given ex­tended runs.

More con­cern­ing for the se­lec­tors has been South Africa’s bat­ting.

No one has re­ally stamped their au­thor­ity in po­si­tions where Gib­son and skip­per Faf du Plessis feel there are holes.

At the top of the or­der they’d like some­one to show they can be a proper back-up to Hashim Amla and Quin­ton de Kock – and even slot in at No 3 – while in the mid­dle or­der there is room for a backup.

There are mit­i­gat­ing cir­cum­stances; some of the pitches for the re­cent matches against Zim­babwe haven’t al­lowed for easy stroke­play.

The Zim­bab­wean bowl­ing de­serves credit too; they’ve been ac­cu­rate with the new ball and in Bran­don Mavuta they have a good young leg-spin­ner.

In South Africa’s mid­dle or­der, Hein­rich Klaasen has made a rea­son­able case for him­self, scor­ing over 100 runs in the ODIS, in­clud­ing a half-cen­tury in the fi­nal match.

To Klaasen’s ad­van­tage is the fact he can bat al­most any­where in the or­der and his wicket-keep­ing skills make him the ideal back-up were any­thing to hap­pen to De Kock.

The top or­der is less well stocked. While Ai­den Markram matched Klaasen’s ag­gre­gate in the ODIS, the se­lec­tors would have pre­ferred some more out­put from him.

Dean El­gar also didn’t take ad­van­tage of the chance of­fered to him, while Reeza Hen­dricks has failed to build on his good start in the ODI side.

Du Plessis hinted af­ter Fri­day night’s win in Potchef­stroom in the sec­ond T20 that he was get­ting closer to the mix he wants as far as the bat­ting is con­cerned.

“As a bat­ting unit we need to play to­gether a lit­tle bit more, so I’m look­ing for­ward to Aus­tralia.

“I feel ev­ery game we are get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter,” said the South African cap­tain.

The Proteas will play three ODIS and a T20 In­ter­na­tional Down Un­der next month.

“These T20 matches are teach­ing us a lot, even though it’s a dif­fer­ent for­mat,” Du Plessis added.

“A lot of guys are com­ing in, and while that can cre­ate headaches if those guys take those op­por­tu­ni­ties, that can be re­ally good.”

The fi­nal T20 against Zim­babwe will be played at Wil­low­moore Park Benoni to­day (2.30pm start).

Du Plessis con­firmed that in keep­ing with the side’s ro­ta­tion pol­icy, he will sit out the match, mean­ing there will most likely be a re­turn for Chris­ti­aan Jonker.

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