The Proteas management must avoid asking too much of Quinton de Kock during this period of transition.
These are interesting times for South African cricket. While the Proteas didn’t have everything their own way in the recent white-ball matches, it’s fair to say the team is playing with more heart and spirit than they did at the 2019 World Cup. This is an encouraging sign before the T20 World Cup.
Faf du Plessis made the right call to step down as captain from all three formats. It’s good to hear he will focus on his batting in the lead-up to the global tournament in Australasia. South Africa will need their senior batsmen to fire if they are to have any chance at that competition. It also won’t hurt to have a former captain in the mix to assist the current leader, Quinton de Kock.
I’ve heard that AB de Villiers is set to return to the Proteas set-up in the coming months. South Africa could certainly use him during this period of transition. I’ve always believed De Villiers has something special and I don’t see why he can’t contribute across all three international formats for the next couple of years.
I was never a fan of De Villiers juggling multiple responsibilities – as a skipper, frontline batsman and wicketkeeper. It now appears as if De Kock has been asked to strike the same balance.
De Kock has an important job to do at the top of the order in the shorter formats. Perhaps he can get away with leading the side, opening the batting and keeping wicket in the 20-over format. In the long term, however, the management may need to look at easing his workload. They may have to ask someone else to keep in the longer versions of the game. It’s tough enough for captains to consider their field placings and bowling options in high-pressure situations. Why add to that challenge – and indeed the physical workload – by asking the captain to also keep wicket?
A few batsmen have put up their hands over the past few months. One would hope to see Temba Bavuma and Heinrich Klaasen performing consistently and nailing down their spots in the batting order. David Miller can add value and I would like to see his talents utilised earlier in the innings. He should be batting higher than No 6.
I’ve been encouraged by what I’ve seen in recent months. This was always going to be a difficult period of change and coach Mark Boucher has been put under pressure. It’s been good to see how he has gone about rebuilding the team and instilling a fighting spirit.
Boucher will have to get the balance of his team right quickly. We’ve seen how effective the wrist-spinners are in the shorter formats and Tabraiz Shamsi may be an important player for South Africa later this year. Keshav Maharaj made his name as a Test player but could also prove a force with the white ball in the months to come.
– This column first appeared in the April-June issue of SA Cricket Magazine