With a crunch match against looming on Wednesday, South Africa have opted not to train on Tuesday ahead of the series deciding ODI against New Zealand.
The Proteas were schedule to have a training session on Tuesday, but an email late on Monday evening informed the media that it would no longer be taking place. Coach Russell Domingo is due to hold a press conference at 11:30.
It is a curious decision by the team management not to train before such an important game. South Africa have been well below par, dating back to the World Cup and have struggled to put an end to their inconsistent performances.
A first ever ODI series loss against Bangladesh raised the eyebrows and now they find themselves on the brink of another series defeat, this time at home to a team missing five first-choice players.
Perhaps the Proteas are focusing on the mental aspects of Wednesday’s game instead of the physical training, but considering they have missed a string of catches over the first two ODI’s, it might not have hurt to spend some time on their fielding drills.
It will be interesting to see if the selectors keep the same XI who lost so miserably in Potchefstroom on Sunday. Aaron Phangiso replaced fast bowler Kagiso Rabada for that game in a horses-for-courses approach, but considering they play the final game in Durban, it would make sense to bring Rabada back into the side.
Any other changes would be counter-productive as the jury is still out on a few players. Morne van Wyk, Farhaan Behardien and David Wiese certainly need to make meaningful contributions, but they are not the only ones.
Dale Steyn needs some wickets and David Miller needs some runs. While commentating for SuperSport during the second ODI on Sunday, former captain Graeme Smith pointed out a possible technical flaw in Miller’s batting technique.
Whether or not the Proteas management picks up on this remains to be seen, but Miller hasn’t scored a fifty 50 in his last 10 ODI innings, although there are a few forties in between.
Rilee Rossouw is another who blows hot and cold too often. But ultimately South Africa will look to their most experienced players and the leadership core of the side – AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn – to carry them through this game.
This marks the last chance in the foreseeable future for Behardien and Wiese to convince the selectors of their worth, but it’s probably too late for Morne van Wyk.
Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy will be back in the mix by the time the team heads to India, so the experimentation with the side must end here. If, after this game, the selectors still don’t know who their strongest team is, they probably never will.