Knock, knock ... it’s Dwaine Pretorius
IT was roughly 12 months ago that Dwaine Pretorius was still playing for his provincial outfit North West.
Now, he finds himself in the Proteas dressing- room celebrating an ODI series win and the opportunity to complete a 5- 0 whitewash over world champions Australia.
It has certainly been a meteoric rise for the 27-yearold from Randfontein, who earned his first professional contract at the Highveld Lions in 2014.
In the two ODIs he has played, Pretorius has yet to set the world alight – his debut was against Ireland last month – but he’s shown enough with bat and ball to suggest that he has a future at the highest level.
“It has been an awesome few months for me,” Pretorius said at St George’s Park yesterday. “It obviously started with the SA A tour to Australia, then the Ireland game, and now the Australian series. It has been a really awesome time, and to be part of a team that is three-nil up against the best team in the world, the world champions, it doesn’t get better than that.”
The Proteas could ring the changes for tomorrow’s clash and also next week in Cape Town with the national selectors looking to create greater depth within the ODI squad ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy in England next year.
With Wayne Parnell ruled out with a cracked rib and Chris Morris still sidelined, it is likely that Pretorius will be granted more opportunities to stake a claim for a permanent place.
He knows that the time is ripe to set his stall and will be eager to help South Africa clinch what would be a historic 5-0 thrashing of the Aussies.
“I hope I crack the nod for Sunday’s game. I am looking to perform consistently, and I am going to work hard if an opportunity does come my way. I just want to keep knocking on the door for the next series. I am going to work hard to be ready for Sunday,” he said.
But what about the suggestion that the Proteas could take their foot off the pedal with the series already won?
“Everyone is hungry to play for South Africa. We gave ourselves a few days off to enjoy the victory the other night, but we really want to win the series five-zip,” Pretorius added.
“There are not a lot of teams that can say that. That’s our main focus and we’re not taking anything for granted.”
The selectors have yet to make a call on Kingsmead hero David Miller with his groin injury to be assessed today when he arrives with the majority of the Proteas squad.
Only six players trained yesterday, which allowed coach Russell Domingo the opportunity to have a rare throw-down session with his son.
The smart money is on Tabraiz Shamsi being granted a crack at the Aussies with the chinaman bowler seen marking out his run-up at the Duck Pond End yesterday alongside spin- bowling coach Claude Henderson.
Aaron Phangiso was not at training but could make his way into the starting lineup as the Proteas look to change their tactics to a spin-dominated attack to suit conditions at St George’s Park.
This could mean a muchneeded rest for spearhead Kagiso Rabada ahead of what is expected to be gruelling season across all formats.
The attack will not lose any intent with Australia’s recent struggles against spin, and Shamsi offers the mystique of being somewhat of a “mystery bowler”.
Australian Travis Head, though, doesn’t believe they are not capable of facing quality spin, and the fact that they have already faced Shamsi during the Tri-Nation Series earlier this year will be key to them winning their first game of the series.
“We have seen Shamsi. We’ve seen him before in the Caribbean. We are pretty confident. I think we’ve played Immy quite well too,” Head said. “We’re always looking to win. It hasn’t worked out thus far in the series, but we will try to stay positive and hopefully the result goes our way.” LIKELY PROTEAS Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis (capt), Rilee Rossouw, JP Duminy, David Miller/Farhaan Behardien, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn, Aaron Phangiso, Tabraiz Shamsi. Start: 10am. TV: SS2, SABC3. Radio: Radio2000.