Once again, there will be an element of experimentation in the Proteas five-match ODI series against the West Indies, starting Friday in Durban, as there was with the T20 series.
Players returning from rest and injury and experiments with the balance of the side will all be in the mix with only one aim in mind: the World Cup. Creating a winning mentality and getting on a roll is useful, but there is always the possibility the selectors will take the opportunity to try a few things.
‘It’s a big series for us. We know pretty much where we’re heading and we’re very happy with the squad that we’ve got,’ said Proteas captain AB de Villiers. ‘I’m pretty sure whose going to walk out there and play tomorrow,’ De Villiers told a news conference in Durban on Thursday.
‘It will be great to have a good series here and go to the World Cup with full confidence, which we already have. But it will be good to build on that. I guess just to make sure of the combinations we have and to drill it in a bit,’ he added.
De Villiers’ sentiments were echoed by Sir Richie Richardson, the West Indies team manager.
“It is preparation for the World Cup and how well we do here can impact on what we do in the World Cup. Even if we don’t win this series, as long as we get what we want out of the series, in terms of preparation for the World Cup, that would be very good for us,” said Richardson.
The Proteas management will be hoping that one or two players step up the plate, especially after eyebrows were raised at some of their selections for the World Cup. Step forward, Wayne Parnell, the man with the x-factor, who displaced the longstanding Ryan McLaren.
This is also a time for the unit to gel. Of the squad, almost half are major tournament rookies, such as Rilee Rossouw and Farhaan Behardien.
The South African convenor of selectors, Andrew Hudson, said South Africa would stick to their own ‘brand’ of cricket. ‘We like to play seven batsmen or maybe an all-rounder at No.7, and then five frontline bowlers,’ he said. ‘The process of selection has been about supporting that type of cricket.’
The next two weeks will be a testing time particularly for JP Duminy, who made his return to the field in the third T20 after a lengthy lay-off with a knee injury.
He faced two balls and bowled one over. Now, he says, he will take it game by game in the race to full fitness for the World Cup in February
‘I will try and play every game in this ODI series. I’ll have to asses it game by game as it’s important to manage my knee around games.
‘But the injury will probably affect how much bowling I do. I’m not exactly sure how it will pan out yet, but I’m hoping to contribute with the ball.
De Villiers said that he would wear the gloves in the absence of the injured Quinton de Kock, who is recovering from an ankle injury.
However, De Villiers went on to say that De Kock’s injury has healed far quicker than expected and there is even a slight chance that De Kock could play in the last game of the West Indies series.
SA Squad: AB de Villiers (capt), Hashim Amla, Kyle Abbott, Farhaan Berhardien, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Umran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Vernon Philander, Rillee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, Morne van Wyk.