RYAN VREDE analyses the players for whom the India series matters most in the context of the T20 World Cup.
The majority of the Proteas squad for the World Cup is settled. The likes of skipper Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Tabraiz Shamsi, Keshav Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada shouldn’t make any alternative plans for October and early November.
However, there are places and roles that haven’t been finalised. Here I look at five of those.
Hendricks was the preferred opener at last year’s T20 World Cup but bombed in the role. He was, however, the standout batter for SA A in their recent four-match T20 series against Zimbabwe, where he averaged 66 at a strike rate touching 190. It reminded us of Hendricks’ immense gift, which hasn’t fully expressed itself for the Proteas (he averages 26 after 40 T20Is with a strike rate of 121). He needs a big series to state his case to the national selectors, who aren’t short of quality options at the top of the order.
Injuries have curtailed Nortje’s career recently. He recovered from hip and back injuries to play for the Dehli Capitals in the IPL, but was nowhere close to his potent best. There is concern that he hasn’t fully recovered from those injuries. The India series will tell us more about where Nortje is, and he needs to get back to the levels that made him an indispensable member of the T20 starting XI pre-injury, or he risks missing out on the trip to Australia.
Dwaine Pretorius is expected to be the Proteas’ premier all-rounder and it appeared that, based on the strength of his ODI contributions, Jansen was next in line. Yet, he was inconsistent in the IPL, and while this is expected from a 22-year-old, the selectors will have to determine whether Jansen’s raw gift with ball and bat is worth the peaks and valleys that mark the performances of the vast majority of rookies. If not, there appears to be a gap for …
Parnell played the last of his 40 T20Is in 2017, but has been recalled for the tour of India. The selectors must have liked what they saw in the CSA T20 Challenge, where he conceded an average of 6.70 per over in the 29 he bowled. He did nothing notable with the bat, but it is a dimension of his game that will strengthen his case for inclusion if Jansen, who has not yet scratched the surface of his massive batting potential, continues to struggle for consistency.
There is a scenario where the selectors take both Jansen and Parnell to the World Cup, at Ngidi’s expense. There is also the possibility that Sisanda Magala, who has been excluded from the touring squad for failing to meet conditioning criteria, could do so in the coming months. If this were the case, it would be hard for the selectors to ignore him, considering that he has been a T20 force in domestic cricket, recently finishing the CSA T20 Challenge as the competition’s highest wicket-taker, and with an insane economy of just 5.20. In light of these challengers, Ngidi will have to make a strong impression in the Proteas’ 10 T20Is scheduled between now and the start of the World Cup.