• Five questions the Proteas must answer

    A lot has happened around the Proteas set-up in the lead-up to the series against England, but very little on the field.

    The boardroom strife has distracted, to some extent, from the Proteas poor performances in 2019, particularly in the Test arena.

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    With Mark Boucher installed as team director work is underway to turn those performances around, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The Proteas need to produce answers to these five burning questions on the cricket field, not in the boardroom or press box.

    • Can franchise performers step up to Test level?

    The Proteas have called six uncapped players up to the Test squad, but they are not a half-dozen youngsters. The six players in contention for their Test debuts sport over 500 first-class appearances between them. There is a balance to the make-up of the six with two specialist bowlers Dane Paterson and Beuran Hendricks joined by two batsmen, Pieter Malan and Rassie van der Dussen. The sextet is rounded out by all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius and wicketkeeper Rudi Second, who is himself a capable batsman.

    All six have proven themselves at franchise level, but there are no sure things when it comes to the step up to Test cricket. 

    The quality of franchise cricket has been questioned, and if this crew fail to make an impact in the series against England, it will underline those concerns.

    • Is Faf du Plessis still the best man to lead the Proteas?

    Du Plessis has led the Proteas to home and away Test series wins over Australia. When he took over the captaincy, he injected some much-needed swagger into the team. However, Test series defeats to Sri Lanka and India and a dreadful World Cup in between have put his leadership under the microscope. 

    Du Plessis may not continue to lead the white-ball sides in the future, but he appears to be committed to remaining at the helm in Tests.

    In this series, Du Plessis needs to prove he can still pull a team together to deliver the kind of intensity that won those series against Australia.

    • Will Kagiso Rabada get the support he needs?

    Rabada may not look tired when he steams in and bowls at 140kmph, but he must be getting weary of carrying the Proteas attack.

    There have been excellent performances from the support cast of seamers over the past two years, but none of them have sent down the number of overs Rabada has.

    The quick has bowled 538 overs since January 2018, and for all the talk of workload management, there doesn’t seem to be an end to the over-reliance on Rabada any time soon.

    Kagiso Rabada
    • What is the best way to use Quinton de Kock in Test cricket?

    The Proteas need to find the best way for them to deploy the talents of De Kock.

    As arguably the best stroke-maker in the team, it would be ideal if De Kock filled the number four slot in the batting order, but he needs to get more experience in the role.

    Batting at four and keeping wicket could prove too demanding for a player who should be a crucial part of the Proteas plans for perhaps the next decade. With Second in the squad and in good form with the bat himself, the Basil d’ Oliveira Trophy series would be an excellent time to give De Kock a run as a specialist batsman.

    • Can Boucher restore the Proteas confidence?

    The new Proteas management have diagnosed the chief problem of the national team as a chronic lack of confidence.

    Boucher has said that he will use a variety of methods to get the best out of the players, dismissing fears that he would bring outdated coaching methods to the international fold.

    The real test of that will be how the Proteas carry themselves and play against an England team that is beatable, but dangerous and full of match-winners.

    Photo: Gallo Images

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