The Proteas ODI side will rely heavily on their new captain during this period of transition, writes JON CARDINELLI.
South Africa will enter a new era when they meet England in the first of three ODIs on Tuesday. The Proteas will go into that limited-over series with a new coach in Mark Boucher, a new captain in Quinton de Kock and a number of new players.
Should the group forget about the team’s implosion at the World Cup last year as well as the batting issues that crippled the side during the recent Test series? The Proteas would do well to start the rebuilding process sooner rather than later and address the issues that have hampered them across all three formats for some time.
The selection of a largely young squad suggests that the brains trust is after long-term answers. The team may struggle against the ODI champions in the coming series, but they will be better for the experience in future.
The Proteas haven’t played an ODI match since the World Cup last July. Despite the presence of several senior players, the batting lineup was horribly exposed and the side ended up winning just three of its nine group matches.
De Kock scored three 50s and averaged 38.12 across the World Cup group stage. The opening batsman outperformed some of the more senior players in the side yet failed to show the necessary application and grit to bat the opponents out of the contest.
The new-look Proteas side will depend on De Kock to deliver these types of performances on a consistent basis in the short and long term. He’s played some sparkling knocks at home and away over the course of his 115 ODIs, and his talent has never been in question. It will be interesting to see how he copes with the extra pressure of the captaincy and knowing that so many of his teammates don’t boast the same experience.
Faf du Plessis has been rested for the ODI series. It’s the right call when one considers that the veteran is set to retire from all formats at the end of the year. It makes sense to blood a younger player who will be around when the Proteas compete in the 2021 ICC Champions Trophy and eventually the 2023 World Cup.
Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen must view this as an opportunity to establish themselves as go-to batsmen in the ODI set-up. David Miller has a lot of experience and – like De Kock – will be expected to contribute big scores on a more consistent basis.
England will go into the ODI series as favourites. Boucher and company will get something out of the next three games, however, whether the Proteas win or lose.