The ODI series in New Zealand represents both a challenge and an opportunity for what is a well-balanced Proteas team.
We’re in for an interesting couple of months. The Proteas will play the first match of a three-game series against New Zealand on 21 October. In November, they will travel across the Tasman Sea to take on the Australians in their own backyard.
Some people may view the latter series as more challenging and significant. Personally, I think it would be foolish to underestimate New Zealand in New Zealand.
The tracks are low and slow, and the weather is rarely good. The local players boast a reputation for being competitive and in your face, as some of the Proteas may remember from that 2011 World Cup quarter-final match.
I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen from the Proteas in recent months. That said, they will need to kick on when they get to New Zealand.
As was witnessed in Sri Lanka and more recently in Zimbabwe, the Proteas have settled on a good combination. Now it’s time to build some momentum with that team in New Zealand and Australia, the countries that will co-host the 2015 World Cup.
Let’s start with the top of the batting order. Hashim Amla is in fine touch, and Quinton de Kock has really made his chance count. I’ve been in favour of his inclusion, as it lends some balance to the team when De Kock takes the gloves and AB de Villiers is allowed to focus on his batting and captaincy.
De Kock has also done a job for South Africa at the top of the order, and has been particularly effective in hitting the seamers over the infield. Perhaps the Kiwis and the Aussies may look to bowl a spinner at the start innings in order to contain De Kock. It is a challenge the youngster must overcome.
De Villiers and Faf du Plessis have been in outstanding form. We’ve seen David Miller play some explosive knocks in the Indian Premier League, and I’d like to see him playing that role more regularly for the national side. JP Duminy does a very different job for the Proteas coming in at No 5 or 6. He’s a mature head who can adapt to any situation, and a good foil to the more aggressive players.
It’s a balanced line-up if you then consider the bowlers at South Africa’s disposal. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir will lend some variety to that attack, as he did in the triangular series in Zimbabwe. What I would like to see is fewer extras being conceded by the South African bowlers.
While the Proteas impressed with their wins against Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and Australia, they will face a different sort of challenge over the next couple of months. It’s vital that they travel to New Zealand and Australia with the right attitude, and that they continue to gather momentum before next year’s World Cup.
Graeme Pollock played 23 Tests for South Africa, scoring 2 256 runs at an average (60.97) that remains second only to Don Bradman’s. He was voted South Africa’s Player of the 20th century in 1999, and inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2009.
Due to a series of health problems that have impacted on his financial position, Pollock is now reaching out to fans in hope of some support. If you are able to contribute to his Trust in any way, please do not hesitate to call his agent Basil O’Hagan on 083 4124459 or make a deposit, however small, to the following Trust Fund.
Name of Account Holder: Rudolf Buys & Associates Trust
Name of Bank: Standard Bank
Account Number: 281 464 359
Branch: Fourways Crossing
Branch Code: 009 953
Type of Account: Trust Account
Ref: Mr G Pollock