Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis says the ODI series against Sri Lanka is an ‘opportunity to learn’ for his relatively inexperienced squad.
With the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup less than a year away, the Proteas have taken the initiative by including two ODI debutants in Reeza Hendricks and Junior Dala in the squad, along with several other players who will have their sights set on establishing themselves in the side at the start of this important World Cup season.
JP Duminy is the only player in the squad to have played at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium – where the Proteas lost both matches played in 2004 – while Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, David Miller and Quinton de Kock have some experience of playing on the island.
The Proteas’ World Cup squad is far from finalised, which means finding the balance between giving opportunities and winning matches against Sri Lanka, who are currently ranked the number eight ODI side in the world.
‘We will try and give everyone a game if possible,’ said Du Plessis ahead of the first ODI. ‘Once again it comes down to the combinations of our team and trying to find the best balance. It was nice for me to see a few guys put their hands up in the warm-up game.
‘For me, the opportunity to learn is the most exciting thing,’ he said. ‘I personally don’t look at winning the next few series as the be-all and end-all. It is trying to find out how we can give guys opportunities, how they can learn, how they can get experience and what they can learn from different scenarios. That will aid us and make us stronger to where we want to be in a year’s time.’
Although conditions are expected to be a lot more balanced for the series, the hosts are expected to rely on their spinners after their dominance in the Test series. Du Plessis says he is ‘excited’ to see how his squad grows from the unique and challenging experience of playing in Sri Lanka and, more importantly, taking advantage of what they have learned from playing spin.
‘The Sri Lankan team will still have good spinners, that won’t go away,’ said Du Plessis. ‘I think it’s exciting, especially having a young team here. There are guys playing in these conditions for the first time, and that excites me. It’s about them experiencing the conditions for themselves and figuring out a way of playing against the spinners. Whether it’s by making mistakes or doing well, that is okay – it is about learning.
‘A tour like this, all we are trying to do is to make sure we can get better as a team in a year’s time. That is how I see the next three or four months unfolding. As a one-day team, it is about identifying the areas where we can get better, and spin is one of those areas. How we learn to deal with that is the challenge over the next few months.’
Play is scheduled to start at 10am local time.
Standard Bank Proteas ODI squad
- Faf du Plessis (Multiply Titans, capt)
- Hashim Amla (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras)
- Junior Dala (Multiply Titans)
- Quinton de Kock (Multiply Titans)
- JP Duminy (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras)
- Reeza Hendricks (bizhub Highveld Lions)
- Heinrich Klaasen (Multiply Titans)
- Keshav Maharaj (Hollywoodbets Dolphins)
- Aiden Markram (Multiply Titans)
- David Miller (Hollywoodbets Dolphins)
- Wiaan Mulder (bizhub Highveld Lions)
- Lungisani Ngidi (Multiply Titans)
- Andile Phehlukwayo (Hollywoodbets Dolphins)
- Kagiso Rabada (bizhub Highveld Lions)
- Tabraiz Shamsi (Multiply Titans).
July 29: 1st ODI, Dambulla (Day match)
August 1: 2nd ODI, Dambulla (D/N)
August 5: 3rd ODI, Kandy (day match)
August 8: 4th ODI, Kandy (D/N)
August 12: 5th ODI, Colombo (D/N)
August 14: T20 International, Colombo (D/N)
Photo: Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images