Ryan McLaren’s rejection and Wayne Parnell’s poor form are quickly becoming moot points, as South Africa explore the depths of the part-time bowling ranks in Australasia.
While AB de Villiers and Farhaan Behardien are not of former New Zealand pair Chris Harris and Gavin Larsen’s military-medium calibre, as witnessed with various degrees of success during the 1992 World Cup in Sydney, Wellington and surrounds, they are – collectively and individually – becoming genuine bowling options.
Faf du Plessis and Rilee Rossouw, willingly or begrudgingly, are also finding a warranted place in the bowling attack. Granted, injury to JP Duminy and Vernon Philander has necessitated a spell or two from de Villiers and company, but the so-called imbalance of a squad minus the services of a genuine all-rounder is gradually being offset.
The relatively economical deployment of the freelance quartet across the fifth and final 10-over allotment against the Irish at the Manuka Oval in Canberra was not a generous exercise in delaying the inevitable. It was, however, a telling gauge for the remainder of the group stage – and perhaps beyond. The occasional experimentation – if not against Pakistan in Auckland on Saturday, then versus the United Arab Emirates in Wellington next week – must continue, obviously tempered by circumstance and scenario.
Du Plessis’ arrival on the international stage in 2011 effectively coincided with a loose pledge of some leg-spin, while Behardien was first-change bowler at university and club level before playing domestic cricket. The skills of yesteryear, indeed, are being rekindled – and won’t necessarily be sidelined when Duminy and Philander returns.
Some will argue the use of du Plessis and cohorts with the ball highlights the absence of, say, David Wiese, Dean Elgar or Albie Morkel. The unexpected extra seam and spin resources, however, have inadvertently extended the depth of the touring 15 – and with it the opportunity to do what no other Proteas squad, laden with proper all-rounders, have been able to do in six previous World Cups.