This is a T20 World Cup year. Extra focus, then, is on the Proteas’ T20I team. They’re currently involved in a three-match series with Australia. The series result will be decided at Newlands in Cape Town on Wednesday. Some answers to these questions should come with it.
What’s the end game with Pite van Biljon?
- Van Biljon performed well for the Jozi Stars in the inaugural Mzansi Super League and decently for the Tshwane Spartans in the second edition of the tournament. That’s two major finals for the Knights batsman, whose big-match temperament hasn’t really yet been tested at international level. One trusts he’ll be afforded a longer go than fellow 33-year-old Christiaan Jonker was prior to the 2019 World Cup.
Who, if not Temba Bavuma, can open the batting with Quinton de Kock?
- The question was posed earlier, too, and will remain valid until Bavuma returns from injury. South Africa are still without the injured Aiden Markram, leaving Reeza Hendricks the man in charge of supporting captain Quinton de Kock at the top of the T20I order. Hendricks for now, yes, but perhaps Janneman Malan should be the preferred backup when Bavuma returns.
Is an extended stay for Jon-Jon Smuts available?
- Smuts was deemed not fit enough for international cricket. Then he got fit enough for this T20I and the preceding one against England – and even squeezed in an ODI debut. His left-arm spin has made him more of a bane than a blessing for the Proteas. They could easily shelve him if he didn’t have the bowling option, but it’s largely required in an XI that has only one specialist spinner.
Andile Phehlukwayo and/or Dwaine Pretorius?
- There is probably room for both all-rounders in the same XI, but at the expense of an additional specialist bowler or batsman. If that is the case, then there is definitely no room for Chris Morris going forward. But Morris has inspired renewed confidence in former critics. Morris’ recent success with the bat and ball for the title-winning Sydney Thunder in Australia’s recent Big Bash League make him a particularly promising prospect for a T20 World Cup that will be hosted in the same country.
Heinrich Klaasen – has-been or upstart?
- The Proteas constantly seem undecided on Klaasen’s value. Frustratingly, he seemed set for an extended run in the T20I this month before injury struck. With the rise of other younger wicketkeeper-batsmen, it’s likely he’ll be selected as a specialist middle-order batter, if at all. Like Tabraiz Shamsi, though, he needs to be an afforded a run while judgement is reserved on whether he will shape up or ship out.
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