South Africa A will tour Zimbabwe in June for four List A matches and two Four-Day matches. CARL LEWIS selects five players to keep an eye on and discusses why the tour is important for their futures.
With Covid-19 affecting the amount of cricket played, a series like this is important for South African players to get some game time. Yet, for others, it is a chance to remind selector Victor Mpitsang of the value they can add to the Proteas set-up.
The younger Malan brother has been one of the outstanding players in white-ball cricket in South Africa, both domestically and on the international stage. His ODI average is 74 after four matches and includes a 129 not out against Australia and a 70 against Pakistan at Centurion earlier this year. The biggest obstacle for Malan is attempting to oust seasoned internationals in Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram and Temba Bavuma in the Proteas top order. The series against Zimbabwe should be seen as another chance for him to make a push to be included in the Proteas set-up.
Not so long ago Phehlukwayo was undoubtedly the premier white-ball all-rounder for the Proteas. Recently, his career trajectory has taken a dip adjacent to the Proteas’ decline. At his best, Phehlukwayo’s bowling is a huge asset to South Africa because of his skilled variation and ability to bowl in pressure situations.
However, since the 2019 World Cup, the all-rounder has struggled for form and this could be down to the lack of cricket. That’s why this series is important for him and poses a chance to get his rhythm back. Another concern regarding Phehlukwayo is the lack of runs and development in his batting. He has the talent to win matches from the lower order but needs this to be a consistent feature in his game. At 25 years old, time is very much on Phelukwayo’s side.
At 22, wicketkeeper Qeshile is one of the brightest talents in SA cricket and he has shown moments of class and temperament in all formats in his young career. He played in the recent series against Namibia Eagles for the South Africa Emerging Players but, like many others, failed to make a significant impact with scores of 4, 19 and 0 in the One-Day series. It was a disappointing tour but the series against Zimbabwe is the perfect opportunity to remind the SA public and selectors why he was selected for the Proteas in a T20I series a few years ago. Qeshile, like the other promising wicketkeeper/batsman, Kyle Verreynne, is a multi-format player with the potential to build a long and successful international career.
Zubayr Hamza and Theunis de Bruyn
These two are the ‘forgotten men’ of SA cricket. Initially, there were high hopes for both at the beginning of their international careers but after Test averages of below 20 they were dropped. Since then, both have failed to make a solid case for a return. Although it is a limited-over series, performing well will put them back in the minds of the public and selectors, especially considering the Proteas batting unit is not settled with Faf du Plessis retiring from Test cricket. Hamza, to the pleasure of most fans, did come good towards the back end of the domestic seasons in both the T20 competition and the Four-Day series. For De Bruyn, domestic cricket has been more of a struggle because of the lack of big runs and meaningful innings. At 28, he is in the prime of his career and it is potentially now or never for his international career.