Proteas look all set for Trophy
Only Miller and Tahir’s fitness a major concern, as is the all-rounder berth
THE PROTEAS have enjoyed the past two days at leisure, with the squad handed a short break before they really knuckle down for Saturday’s opener against Sri Lanka.
Some went golfing in Surrey, while the likes of Keshav Maharaj met up with friends in the city of London. David Miller and Imran Tahir, meanwhile, mixed pleasure with pressure, as the physio kept at them and their hamstrings.
By tomorrow, a decision needs to be made on the pair, and the selection panel and skipper AB de Villiers would love to have both in the side.
There is optimism that both will be fit, though if they were to pick a match to miss in the group stages, Sri Lanka would probably head the list.
Of course, like every other side, South Africa want to make an immediate impression in the competition. The one-day series against England didn’t go according to plan, but the win at Lord’s restored some confidence, and perhaps confirmed the need for specialists in the early summer conditions.
The Proteas’ bowling department looked most threatening when they were on the attack, pitching the ball up and looking for it to swing. The series was a final trial for certain spots, and Wayne Parnell did his chances no harm with his new-ball spell.
He bowled at good pace, and got late swing – to left and right-handed batsmen. In tandem with Kagiso Rabada, he asks a different set of questions, and looks a real danger when he keeps the ball up.
It is in the all-round department that the Proteas have to make some big calls. They can’t play all four of Parnell, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius. It will have to be two at a time and it seems, and the latter duo didn’t enjoy the success of the past year.
They were confronted by a charging Eoin Morgan and, even worse, Ben Stokes, and their figures suffered. Both missed out at Lord’s.
Upfront, Hashim Amla has found his touch again, passing 7 000 runs in the process. The fluency is back in his off-side play, and his catching at Lord’s would have been a relief to him and the collective.
Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers all have runs under the belt, so there aren’t too many worries in the top four.
It is below them that there have been some concerns. JP Duminy was discarded after a poor shot at Headingley, but was restored for the final match against England, where he spent some valuable time at the crease.
Miller, if passed fit, is the finisher, and Morris looks to be the man to assist in that regard.
Kagiso Rabada and Tahir pick themselves, and Parnell – still a confidence player – almost has to play after his exploits on Monday. That leaves room for one more, and it looks like a battle between the experience of Morne Morkel, and the enthusiasm of Andile Phehlukwayo.
The latter has been entrusted with the death overs for most of the past year, so it is unlikely that he will be discarded so swiftly. Morkel, of course, brings striking ability upfront.
Crucially, Phehlukwayo is also more comfortable with bat in hand, and is much more versatile around the field.
Those additional factors may just give him the edge. WILL THEY MAKE IT? South Africa’s David Miller and Imran Tahir are expected to be fit for the country’s opening fixture of the ICC Champions Trophy against Sri Lanka on Saturday.