Five lessons from South Africa’s five-wicket victory over England and clinching the series 3-2 against England.
Two all-rounders work
After struggling for more than a year to incorporate an all-rounder into the side, South Africa now have two in David Wiese and Chris Morris. Both made telling contributions in the last two matches but AB de Villiers said they haven’t abandoned the seven batsmen approach. The two all-rounders give the side a good balance, but the problem is neither excels at one of the disciplines. Morris has to improve his bowling while Wiese needs a consistent run in the team to judge him more accurately, but his batting will be important. It sounds like Morris and Wiese’s inclusion in the same XI will depend on the conditions and opposition.
Middle order conundrum
Morris and Wiese’s selection means four batsmen will fight for two spots in the middle order. The selectors will have to choose between JP Duminy, Farhaan Behardien, David Miller and Rilee Rossouw. The middle order was chopped and changed throughout the series with Behardien and Rossouw preferred on Sunday. De Villiers admitted that Rossouw likes to face the new ball but finding a spot for him in the top order might prove difficult. Either way, the competition for places among the batsmen is as fierce as ever.
Abbott is a must
The bowling stocks are not as healthy as the batting, especially when there are injuries to a key player like Dale Steyn. Kyle Abbott has been used almost as a rolling sub during his career, stepping in when there’s an injury. He is always the player who makes way for someone else. Hopefully those days are over now because Abbott has proved to be a big asset in all formats, despite not playing regularly. His disciplined bowling is a must in one-day games and he should also be a shoo-in for the T20 World Cup.
Top four still hold all the cards
South Africa’s success in ODI cricket starts and ends with the top order, and specifically the top four. South Africa will win most of their games if two of Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers are on song. There is still too much fragility in the middle and lower order, which makes the top four the only area of the side that is completely settled.
Not invincible anymore
For years the likes of JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis were automatic selections for the Proteas across all formats, but the emergence of players like Temba Bavuma (Tests), Rilee Rossouw, Chris Morris and David Wiese (ODIs) has changed that. Both Duminy and Du Plessis were in and out of the team during the Test series, while Duminy was left out for the deciding ODI at Newlands in favour of Rossouw. Duminy has been a serial under-performer for too long now and will have to improve in all areas if he wants to be a regular selection again. Having said that, he remains one of the best T20 batsmen in the world and will have a key role to play in South Africa’s campaign at the World Cup in March and April.