Geoffrey Toyana believes that Chris Morris could be the opening partner that Kagiso Rabada needs, to lead the Proteas to Champions Trophy glory.
Since the injuries of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, the Proteas have had a rotation of opening partners. We’ve seen the Morris-Rabada combination in the first and fifth ODI against New Zealand, Wayne Parnell and Morris in the second, and Rabada-Parnell in the third and fourth.
The key for the Champions Trophy would be to find consistency up front and at the death, with the addition of Morkel providing the necessary experience for that role.
The Lions coach, in conversation with Simnikiwe Xabanisa from the City Press, revealed his concerns about finding an opening bowling partnership and believes that Morris has proved his death-bowling promise for the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL this season.
‘For me, the key is that in the bowling unit, the guys understand their roles,’ said Toyana.
‘A guy like Morris, who seems to be impressing with every game he plays, can do the job of opening with Rabada, but the key is for him to start well.
‘As someone who has worked with Morris, it’s important that he starts confidently, otherwise things can go badly.
‘Morris has shown that he’s got the ability to bowl at the death, and with a guy like Kagiso’s pace and control in the late stages, there shouldn’t be a problem.’
Toyana gave his opinion about the Proteas selection, calling it ‘a fair squad that had played together for the past 18 months’, but was baffled by the inclusion of Keshav Maharaj.
‘He’s a top bowler who’s done well for the Dolphins in limited- over cricket and for the Proteas in Tests,’ he said.
‘But it’s a surprise for me because [left-arm chinaman Tabraiz] Shamsi and [Aaron] Phangiso have been part of the set-up for a while now.’
The exclusion of Vernon Philander was also a surprise for Toyana.
‘I thought that, as a seamer, he [Philander] would have been in the discussions, but there’s still a good balance between bat and ball in the team.’
Toyana has highlighted the balance in the side between youth and experience, and he tips the Proteas as potential champions for the tournament, which kicks off on 1 June.
‘If you look at the side as a whole, for the past four or five months, they haven’t relied on AB [de Villiers] or [Dale] Steyn, so the younger guys have come through and everybody seems to be performing at the same time.
‘When you add the batting of Hashim Amla, Quinny de Kock, Faf [du Plessis], AB and David Miller to the equation, I really think they’ve got a chance to go all the way in English conditions.’
The Proteas will play their first match on 3 June against Sri Lanka in Group B.