The Proteas have the quality to win the Champions Trophy, but they didn’t need to pick two spinners.
Our side are more than capable of winning the tournament in June. We’ve been in a great run of form, and we have some world-class players. Our top four are our biggest strengths. The only form issue was with Hashim Amla, but now he’s scoring buckets of runs in the IPL, so it’s great timing.
I would say the favourites are India. They have experience at winning big tournaments, including the Champions Trophy in English conditions. They have a great balance to their side. But the way the 50-over game is played these days, anything can happen. ODIs are far less easier to predict now, where a performance from one player can take the game away. That’s why Australia will always have a good chance, because they have players like David Warner, Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc.
In terms of the depth of our squad, I don’t think we need to be taking two out-and-out spinners along. Most of the squads have one spinner, and one or two part-time spinners, which is all that’s required in English, seam-friendly conditions. Keshav Maharaj is a good bowler who’s proven himself at Test level, but he’s going to be the one the batsmen target, should he get a game. He offers control, but there’s no space for a controlled spinner in today’s 50-over game. If they wanted two spinners, then they should have picked the more attacking Tabraiz Shamsi, who has a better chance of taking a wicket against the run of play.
Instead of Maharaj, I would have gone for an extra seamer such as Vernon Philander, or an extra batsman alongside Farhaan Behardien to provide competition in those No 5 and No 6 positions, with question marks hovering above JP Duminy and David Miller’s form.
It’s great to see guys like Amla, Chris Morris and Imran Tahir performing in the IPL. My only concern is that the Champions Trophy will be a completely different shift in pressure. The players in the IPL are too friendly towards each other, and it removes that element of aggression and competitiveness.
I’m worried that they’ll be lacking that big-match temperament when it comes to the close moments in the Champions Trophy. When I played in the Rest of the World exhibition matches back in the day, we all wanted to play well, but the friendly nature it was played in meant I didn’t end up playing as well as I would have done if it was a Test match for my country.
Other than that, I’m happy to see Morne Morkel back, who will take the fast-bowling load off Kagiso Rabada’s shoulders. There’s a good balance to the squad, and I expect us to progress from the group stages. From there, it will come down to whoever shows up on the day.
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