RYAN VREDE rates the Proteas players on the strength of their performances against the West Indies.
Quinton de Kock – 9
At the beginning of the year I wrote that De Kock was being shackled by the weight of captaincy and that he needed to be freed of that responsibility or dropped in order for him to regain his confidence and form. Thankfully it was the former, and the results are plain to see. He followed an excellent Test series by being the leading run-scorer in the T20I series, collecting 255 runs at an average of 51.00 and a strike rate of 141.66. He’ll go to the World Cup as the Proteas’ premier batter.
Reeza Hendricks – 4
Hendricks’ contributions in the series mimic his career contributions insomuch as they promised much, but ultimately delivered little. He got starts in all but one innings (17,42,17 and 2) before being dropped for the deciding match. It appears that the selectors’ patience has run out, and after 32 innings where he averaged just over 25 at a strike rate of 121.37, you can’t blame them.
Temba Bavuma – 4
The Proteas selectors are going to have a problem if Bavuma doesn’t arrest his mediocrity in the six matches that remain before the World Cup. He averaged 15.20 at a strike rate of 108.33, which is clearly not good enough for a top-order batsman in T20 cricket, let alone the team’s skipper. Bavuma had a solid T20 record coming into this series, so one hopes that it is a temporary dip in form, rather than the start of the type of mediocrity that has marked his Test career.
Aiden Markram – 8
Find of the series. Markram came into the side for the third match, and had all but booked his seat on the plane to the UAE by the decider, during which he scored 70 off 48 deliveries. He finished the series as the Proteas’ second-highest run-scorer despite playing less matches less than most of the other frontline batters. He has now scored four half-centuries in nine T20I innings, underlining his value to a side that has struggled to impose themselves with the bat.
Rassie Van der Dussen – 6
Van der Dussen has been the Proteas’ most consistent performer in T20 cricket for the last year, but questions remain around whether he can be accommodated as a middle-order batsman, given a modest career strike rate of 137.31 (it was 129.33 for the series). I think he can be, especially in a side plagued by middle-order mediocrity. He’ll have to develop his long-hitting game, particularly on slow tracks, before the World Cup, though.
David Miller – 3
Miller’s strong form against Pakistan in the preceding series gave me hope that he was entering a phase of his career marked by consistently making significant contributions for the Proteas. Instead, we’re back to having more hope than certainty about a player who possesses match-defining ability. He averaged just 13 in the series with a strike rate of 108.57. His supporters will point to him coming in too low, but that alone can’t mitigate him. I doubt the Proteas selectors will move on from Miller before the World Cup, but he needs to repay their faith through performance.
Heinrich Klaasen – 2
The last man standing from a failed middle-order experiment that has included Jon-Jon Smuts and Pite van Biljon. His supporters keep pointing to his strike rate, which was in the high 140s prior to the start of the series. I fail to understand how, when judged in the context of his overall contributions across 22 innings, they continue to argue that he is the answer to the Proteas’ middle-order problems. Scored 10 and 7 before being dropped to accommodate Aiden Markram, which paid off handsomely. He looks to be out of the picture for the starting 11 at the World Cup.
George Linde – 5
If we accept that he is primarily a bowler who happens to be competent with the bat, then this rating is fair. However, if we expect more of him with the willow, the rating comes into question. His bowling in partnership with Tabraiz Shamsi in the second match secured victory. It is a partnership with immense potential. Indeed, he’d finish just one wicket behind Shamsi (6) and with a decent economy of 7.81 and strike rate of 16. I wrote this past Sunday that Linde could be the Proteas’ most valuable player at the World Cup if he found some consistency with ball and bat. The latter continues to elude him. He averaged a miserable 2.25 in the series and averages just 11 across 10 innings at a strike rate of 140.27 overall. He is betraying his talent with the bat, and the Proteas need him to improve exponentially, and quickly, if he is to justify his continued selection.
Kagiso Rabada – 5
Mixed bag from KG. He finished as the Proteas’ joint-top wicket-taker (7), but went at nearly 10 runs per over in the series, with his death bowling in some matches raising concern, given that he is likely to fill this role at the World Cup. He needs to develop his skills, especially on wickets that reward fast bowlers with a broad skills, as the ones in the UAE and Oman are likely to. It is unlikely that he can do that in six matches before the tournament. The best-case scenario is that skipper Bavuma finds a competent death bowler from his collection of all-rounders, and is able to bowl KG out in the PowerPlay and middle overs, where he is far more threatening.
Anrich Nortje – 6
Growing in stature in the format and showing game-on-game improvement, which the team has benefited from directly. He came into the series having played four T20I matches, with an economy rate over 10. He finished it with an excellent economy rate of 7 for the series, and reduced his overall economy to 7.66. He bowled extremely quickly, with good control and appreciable skill. Nortje advanced his cause for a starting spot at the World Cup.
Lungi Ngidi – 2
By some distance the weakest performer of the fast bowlers and one who should be concerned about his World Cup prospects. The West Indies targeted Ngidi, evidenced by an economy rate kissing 11 per over across the series. Depending on the balance of the side (ie if the Proteas accommodate another all-rounder) in future, or if the selectors simply lose faith in him and opt for Lizaad Williams or Lutho Sipamla, Ngidi is under pressure to keep his place in the starting 11. The Test series showcased his ability to learn and adapt, which is a positive and gives insight into his growth potential. He’ll need to recover quickly from this poor series and put the learnings from it into improving his performances.
Tabraiz Shamsi – 10
Simply outstanding. To finish as the Proteas’ top wicket-taker is an achievement in itself, given that he shaped the complexion of the contest in many of the five games he played. But to do this with an economy rate of just 4.00 is mind-blowing and speaks to his immense value to the Proteas. I’ve doubted him in the past, but my opinion has been embarrassed. Shamsi has underlined why he is the top-ranked bowler in the format, and he will go to the World Cup as the Proteas’ premier bowling threat.
Not considered given they played just once: Wiaan Mulder, Bjorn Fortuin.