The Proteas have 10 matches before trying to break their big-tournament duck at the T20 World Cup in Australia. These are the defining questions they have to ask themselves before then, writes RYAN VREDE.
1. Can the Proteas afford to continue ignoring Faf du Plessis?
The simple answer is no, especially not if you have ambitions of winning the tournament. I’d open with him and Quinton de Kock – a pair that would give the Proteas quality and a strong presence first up. Du Plessis finished as the IPL’s seventh-highest run-scorer (the fifth consecutive season he finished in the top 10), and, even nearing 38, is one of the format’s elite batters. The national selectors’ continued snub of him must be interpreted as a lack of ambition. It is an indictment of their competency. They’re a national embarrassment.
2. Does David Miller continue to bat at No 6?
This is tricky because for Miller to bat higher, one of Temba Bavuma or Aiden Markram would have to bat at six. Neither are suited to this position. The more likely alternative is that Miller “floats”, potentially coming in at No 4 or 5 should the match situation allow it. This is not a novel idea, but I do believe that this version of Miller is better equipped to succeed than he has been at any stage of his career.
3. Do the Proteas play two spinners?
I thought picking Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi at the 2021 T20 World Cup was an excellent decision. It gave the Proteas a dimension of control they’ve lacked, particularly in the middle overs. Whether a selection approach that worked well in Dubai translates on the harder wickets of Australia is the question the selectors will have to answer. The series against India will give us insight into what the plan is.
4. Which all-rounder do the Proteas back?
Dwaine Pretorius holds the space at present, while Marco Jansen and Wayne Parnell are his challengers. Pretorius performed well with the ball at the IPL, but was average at last year’s World Cup, conceding an average of 11.22 runs per over. He bowled at the death (more on this in a minute), so is exposed to aggressive intent, but that economy was unacceptable. Yet his experience and competent batting – which would become even more important if they were to pick two spinners – are likely to see him retain his place.
5. Who bowls at the death?
Pretorius is the Proteas’ primary death bowler and has been for the bulk of his career. I lamented his performance at the death in the 2021 T20 World Cup in the preceding subsection, but he has an overall economy rate of 7.64 when utilised in this role, which is excellent. Who partners with him at the death is the big debate. Recent history suggests Kagiso Rabada could be that man. This dimension of his game has developed strongly in the last 18 months. Indeed, his hat-trick broke England’s resistance in the final group match at the last World Cup. However, the Proteas have been flexible in this regard. When defending low totals, Rabada has often been bowled through up front, while Anrich Nortje has been asked to do a job at the death. Nortje’s injury worries persist though, and it remains to be seen if he stays fully fit in the coming months.
The team I’d pick to win a World Cup:
1. Quinton de Kock
2. Faf du Plessis
3. Rassie van der Dussen
4. Aiden Markram
5. Temba Bavuma
6. David Miller
7. Dwaine Pretorius
8. Keshav Maharaj
9. Kagiso Rabada
10. Anrich Nortje
11. Tabraiz Shamsi
Proteas’ 10-match schedule before T20 World Cup:
- Five-match series vs India
- Three-match series vs England
- two-match series vs Ireland