The 2019-20 season was marked by a clear desire to ensure franchise cricketers are rewarded for performances, and that is expected to continue under the guidance of interim director of cricket Graeme Smith.
Here, we look at the players at each franchise who are most likely to make their international debut soon enough.
- Tony de Zorzi (Cape Cobras)
De Zorzi has made a move from SuperSport Park to Newlands as the Cobras seek a balm to improve their depth. The Proteas success of brothers Pieter and Janneman Malan could limit their involvement with the Cobras, opening the door for the former Titan to make a statement.
The top-order batsman made himself a regular in the Titans lineup despite the presence of plenty of Proteas and will need to do the same in the Cape.
De Zorzi will likely serve as Pieter Malan’s opening partner, which could enhance his claim on a Proteas spot. As far as where he fits into the Proteas picture, De Zorzi may well be the long-term replacement for Dean Elgar in the Test XI.
- Grant Roelofson (Dolphins)
Roelofson enjoyed a breakout first season with the Dolphins, marked by centuries in both first-class and List A cricket.
For most of the season, he ensured Proteas-capped wicketkeeper-batsman Mangaliso Mosehle was limited to a fringe role, but his great potential is the batting side of his game.
Roelofson will likely find his way into the Proteas white-ball teams sooner rather than later, but he has the potential to play all three formats.
In one season, he has surpassed another green-and-gold candidate in the Dolphins ranks in Sarel Erwee.
- Raynard van Tonder (Knights)
The former SA U19 skipper blossomed during the 4-Day Domestic Series and could press for a Proteas place if he can keep that form up.
Van Tonder is already in the development pipeline, so to speak, but his ability to go big was demonstrated with a maiden franchise double ton against the Titans last season.
The departure of Keegan Petersen for Durban makes Van Tonder the clear favourite to be the next Knights player honoured with a Proteas cap.
- Ryan Rickelton (Lions)
An explosive left-handed opening batsman, Rickelton is also unfortunate that his natural path into the Proteas team is blocked by skipper Quinton de Kock.
Rickelton can play some incredible innings, but consistency has been what is missing from his game.
He has made a decent start to his first-class career, but is also more likely to work his way into the white-ball teams.
- Thando Ntini (Titans)
The Titans have acquired a string of hot seam-bowling prospects ahead of the 2020-21 season, but few come with the expectation that surrounds Ntini.
Ntini joins at the same time as former Cobras teammate Lizaad Williams and the Dolphins’ Okuhle Cele. Both Ntini and Cele showed encouraging signs in 2019-20, but the former is likely to become the next Titans player to receive a Proteas cap.
He will have to handle the inevitable comparisons to his famous father, but playing for the Proteas is something Ntini Jnr has been preparing for his whole life.
- Rudi Second (Warriors)
Second has been part of Proteas Test squads previously and was impressive for South Africa A in India at the outset of the 2019-20 season.
The Warriors wicketkeeper-batsman is probably the most consistent first-class performer who is yet to earn a Proteas Test cap.
A counter-attacking batsman, Second’s opportunities have been limited by South Africa’s phenomenal depth of wicketkeepers. But, like Kyle Verreynne, he can play as a specialist middle-order batsman.
If the tour to the West Indies goes ahead, the trip would be an ideal time to hand Second a Test debut.
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