Parnell’s got the ball, must deliver it right for SA
THE biggest winner of the reshuffle in the Proteas pace pack has no doubt been Wayne Parnell, A month ago, he was on the periphery of the squad, and looking very much like spending most this month playing domestic cricket, and waiting for an injury to a member of the national squad.
And yet, as he looks ahead to 2017, the Western Province and Cobras man knows that the ball is well and truly in his left hand, and it is now down to him to deliver it where his team needs it most.
His form has got progressively better, his influence growing with each passing spell.
Skipper AB de Villiers was fulsome in his praise for the left-armer, noting that he was starting to find the shape that makes him an altogether more ominous prospect with the new ball.
“It was a nice start (in Port Elizabeth), and I was happy to contribute to the team,” Parnell said of his 3/48 return in Saturday’s win over Sri Lanka down the coast. Parnell gave South Africa the perfect start with the ball on Saturday, and his performances are viewed with more scrutiny because he is the frontrunner in a position that is very key.
Ever since Kyle Abbott revealed that he was no longer a part of the Proteas’ plans in the first week of the year, the national team has been on the lookout for someone who can start and finish the innings of with ball, in cahoots with Kagiso Rabada.
Andile Phehlukwayo has shown potential, but is still learning.
The KwaZulu-Natal youngster has also just returned from a big injury.
And so, the shoes are there for Parnell to fill in the way he sees fit, as long as he can also stay free from the treatment table.
“We have a big series in New Zealand after this,” he pointed out.
Naturally, Parnell will expect to play a big part in the next few months for the Proteas, especially with the white-ball format becoming the main priority in the build-up to the Champions Trophy.
Finally, game time will not be an issue, it seems.
“That is the key thing for any professional. Going on tour, and getting a game here and there doesn’t have the same effect as playing regularly. Playing under those pressures regularly has been beneficial for me over the last few months,” he emphasised.
Parnell has got to this point on the back of some solid domestic form for the Cobras, so he was more than ready to step up when Abbott stepped out.
“In domestic cricket, I was obviously figuring out what to do to get back into the national team and then stay here.
It’s been going nicely over the last few months, so I just need to keep doing what I was doing for the past two or three seasons,” he explained.
The tall left-armer may have had a quieter time of it in the Test series, but it has always been the shorter formats that he was marked as a man who could win matches of significance for his country.
Lest we forget, Parnell is also a more than handy option with the bat in hand down the order.
Former South African captain Shaun Pollock joked with Parnell that he should perhaps be promoted up the order to pinch-hit.
The southpaw all-rounder took the challenge to coach Russell Domingo, but the big chief didn’t bite. Well, not yet anyway! Parnell has domestic hundreds under his belt, and he may yet flex his shoulders on the ultimate stage.
That will be his and Domingo’s plan, of course.
If he can maintain his output with the ball, the Proteas may find themselves having stumbled upon another all-rounder option to beef up resources that were getting scarcer just a year ago.
It’s funny how the game works itself out sometimes.
South Africa play Sri Lanka in the second One Day International at Durban’s Kingsmead tomorrow afternoon.
The game starts at 1.30pm.