• Abbott a must for play-offs

    Kyle Abbott must play ahead of Vernon Philander in the quarter-final against Sri Lanka in Sydney.

    Much has been made about Quinton de Kock’s performances during the round robin stage. I had hoped that De Kock would spend some time in the middle against the United Arab Emirates. He needed to take that opportunity, and play himself back into form. Sadly, he was out for 26 off 45 deliveries. It was far from convincing.

    However, the Proteas cannot afford to drop De Kock at this stage of the tournament. While he is low on confidence after a series of failures with the bat, he’s done well as a wicketkeeper. Giving AB de Villiers the gloves at this juncture will only upset the Proteas’ batting dynamic.

    I’ve been consistent in my view that De Kock is the answer at the top of the order. And yet, after the recent innings, I concede that South Africa may be better served if De Kock slides down to No 7. Rilee Rossouw should be promoted to open, assuming that Faf du Plessis returns at No 3. I like the idea of seven specialist batsmen, and I maintain that this formula will give South Africa their best chance of winning the World Cup.

    Of course, this will force the selectors to make a tough decision. The Proteas should persist with seven batsmen and four bowlers (namely three seamers and the leg-spinner, Imran Tahir). This means that Farhaan Behardien will have to sit out.

    Behardien may have contributed against the UAE, but he hasn’t done enough over the past few months to command a place. I don’t think Vernon Philander’s current form warrants selection either. These two should be replaced by Du Plessis and Kyle Abbott respectively. The latter two are in form, and have what it takes to excel on a quicker track in Sydney, and against opponents like Sri Lanka.

    I’ve expressed my concerns about Philander before. This past season, he’s dropped a yard or two in pace. His conditioning looks to be a problem, and the fact that he has not featured much in this campaign due to a hamstring injury is another reason to doubt he will fire in a quarter-final.

    Abbott is capable of swinging the ball, and can trouble batsmen with his bounce. Sri Lanka are a hot side at present, but they may struggle if the likes of Abbott and Morné Morkel are bowling quickly and getting the ball to rise steeply off a length. After cracking four consecutive centuries for Sri Lanka, Kumar Sangakkara may be due a failure.

    There’s been plenty of debate about South Africa’s fifth bowling option. I don’t think it will be a factor if the Proteas play seven specialist batsmen, and the right four bowlers. They should have enough quality in that batting lineup to do the job, and I have faith in the likes of JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, and De Villiers fulfilling the duties of the fifth bowler.

    The Proteas have the personnel to win this quarter-final, and I have a feeling they will get the job done. They need to put all the talk of the toss out of their mind, and back themselves to perform whether they bat first or not.

    Graeme Pollock played 23 Tests for South Africa, scoring 2256 runs at an average (60.97) that remains second only to Don Bradman’s. He was voted South Africa’s Player of the 20th century in 1999, and inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2009.

    Due to a series of health problems that have impacted on his financial position, Pollock is now reaching out to fans in hope of some support. If you are able to contribute to his Trust in any way, please do not hesitate to call his agent Basil O’Hagan on 083 4124459 or make a deposit, however small, to the following Trust Fund.

    Name of Account Holder: Rudolf Buys & Associates Trust
    Name of Bank: Standard Bank
    Account Number: 281 464 359
    Branch: Fourways Crossing
    Branch Code: 009 953
    Type of Account: Trust Account
    Ref: Mr G Pollock

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    Graeme Pollock