Proteas have time to explore – Kirsten
GARY KIRSTEN believes South Africa need not stress about identifying their best XI for the World Cup right now and feels there is still room for ‘exploration’ in the coming months.
The tourists arrived in Canberra last night, and will have one training session today at the Manuka Oval ahead of the third ODI against Australia. Although many felt this tour of New Zealand and Australia would be a sort of rubber-stamp for some players along with a confidence booster ahead of the World Cup, Kirsten explained there was nothing wrong with being patient about the make-up of the side ahead of the tournament.
South Africa’s first match is only on February 15, and between now and then there’s still a Test series, five ODIs and three T20s against the West Indies that must be negotiated – as well as the remainder of this series against Australia.
“The one thing about World Cups is that people say you have to be secure in your team and squad – that you should know who your XI are. I don’t believe that,” said Kirsten. “I think things unfold very slowly in a World Cup and you find things out in the World Cup … we certainly did when I was with India.”
If South Africa were to reach the World Cup final in Melbourne, they would have spent more than six weeks in Australasia. A lot can happen in that amount of time. “We were far from Kirsten explained of India’s 2011 campaign. “We had three really good games, one of them, the quarter-final, we probably could have lost, but pulled through.”
“When you’re looking for that perfect combination, I don’t think you’re going to find it, it’s kind of who is firing, who is hot at the time.”
Right now, besides AB de Villiers, South Africa isn’t sure who is hot. However, where they do need clarity is over the No 6 and 7 spots. David Miller has that berth at six in the order and there’ll be a lot of relief that he’s been able to record some runs in the opening two matches against Australia.
What happens in the No 7 spot is a concern. South Africa have twice opted to pick seven specialist batsmen in the starting XI – in the second ODI in Mt Maunganui against New Zealand, AB de Villiers shared the fifth bowler ration with JP Duminy. With Duminy absent, his replacement Farhaan Behardien, has suddenly thrown himself into the mix as a option for the World Cup on account of his bowling – which is very much his secondary trade.
There is another option to consider, explained Kirsten: “Lengthen the batting order by having an all-rounder who comes in at No3.” That worked with limited success at the Champions Trophy in England in 2013 when Robin Peterson batted up the order.
Wayne Parnell was sent in at No 4 during the triangular series final against Australia in Zimbabwe earlier this year, offering an indication that the option is being considered.
As for his role, the former national coach said he’d be working with the team throughout the season.
“My work is largely individualistic – I work one-on-one with the players and see where they are at,” he remarked. “I’m there ... to come as an outsider and facilitate some conversations.”
Kirsten confirmed that he will be working with the South African team at the World Cup. “I’ll probably come twice, at the beginning and then near to the end as well”.