Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma have forged an understanding of one another’s game in the Proteas Test middle order. That relationship makes them the Proteas’ ideal opening partnership.
South Africa have several candidates to open the batting in ODI and T20I cricket, but it would make sense for the pairing of De Kock and Bavuma to fill the roles in both formats.
Team director Mark Boucher has confirmed that if Bavuma is fit to play, he will open the batting with De Kock in the ODIs in India.
‘Temba owns that spot, and if we can get him back in, then he’ll get back in,’ Boucher said after the recent series victory over Australia.
Bavuma and De Kock have pulled off quite a few rescue jobs in Test cricket, often leading counter-attacking drives after top-order failures.
These situations have allowed the two to recognise when the other is under pressure. We saw this when Bavuma took on England off-spinner Moeen Ali, who had taken the new ball in the T20I at Buffalo Park earlier this year.
In most scenarios, De Kock will be the more aggressive batsman, but throughout the summer, Bavuma has kept up a decent tempo.
Bavuma and De Kock have the temperament to play big innings, and the Proteas should stack the decks by having them open the batting in white-ball cricket.
Janneman Malan fired against Australia, but could just as well slot in at three. The Proteas have been averse to using Jon-Jon Smuts in his preferred role as opener, and it doesn’t seem like that will change any time soon.
Malan might also give the Proteas the option to rotate the top three around to suit the match situation.
The Proteas should continue to cast a wide net for the time being, but once their playing pool narrows down to those in the frame to play at the T20 World Cup, De Kock and Bavuma should be installed as first-choice openers.
They appear to get a read on a surface very quickly and that will prove useful in Australia.
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