Proteas set to bloom
PROTEAS captain Faf du Plessis had every reason to be cheerful when he jetted into Cape Town on Friday. Du Plessis left the tour of Sri Lanka to have work done on his injured shoulder, but he was clearly very pleased with the ODI series victory.
Yes, the Proteas lost the last two matches, including a dramatic collapse yesterday, but when you have wrapped up a series 3-0, it’s only human to lose a bit of focus thereafter.
“The vision myself and Gibbo (coach Ottis Gibson) have is all about how we are going to win the World Cup.
“I think you can see the guys are playing an exciting brand of cricket. There are a few young faces playing fearless cricket,” said the skipper.
Those “few young faces” Du Plessis was referring to would include Reeza Hendricks, Lungi Ngidi and Tabraiz Shamsi, all of whom played key roles in the ODI series victory.
The emergence of Hendricks, in particular, will have warmed the hearts of all South African cricket fans, as there is a huge gap to be filled in the top order after the retirement of superstar AB de Villiers.
Ngidi has formed a potent combination with fellow fast bowler Kagiso Rabada, and spinner Shamsi will be able to add much-needed variety to the South African bowling attack.
And there have been other positives too. After worries about their form, Hashim Amla and JP Duminy have showed that they are not yet ready for the scrapheap.
At their best, Amla and Duminy are two stroke players of the highest order and they would love to have a glorious swansong at next year’s World Cup in England.
Because, in the end, as Du Plessis pointed out, it is all about the World Cup. We all know the years and years of bitter disappointment the Proteas have endured at successive World Cups, and this team, like others before them, will be desperate to wipe those nightmares ot of our collective memory banks.
So far, so good then. There is a strong positive vibe from the South African camp at the moment, and with 16 ODIs left until the start of the World Cup, the Proteas have the opportunity to build on this current momentum and arrive at the World Cup fully primed for a strong shot at glory.