Cricket

Miller, De Kock ready to fire SA

2014-02-13 11:58
David Miller (Gallo Images)

Centurion – The Proteas clearly have high hopes that young batting guns Quinton de Kock and David Miller are primed to give the cause key impetus at next month’s ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.

In an interview with Sport24 during the first Test against Australia here, national selection chief Andrew Hudson was notably unreserved and enthusiastic in his appraisal of where the exciting left-handed duo are at in terms of their development in the SA one-day set-up.

Both are certain inclusions when the 15-strong squad is announced, probably not before Monday’s ICC deadline day, according to Hudson.

“We have had the meeting, but there are just a few admin issues to finalise.”

The squad revealed will also do duty in the three-match T20 series against the Aussies, useful preparation for the world get-together even if, as Hudson pointed out, conditions in Bangladesh – the Proteas play all their group matches in Chittagong – will be vastly different.

Gigantic-hitting, designated finisher Miller, 24, has often under-delivered statistically for the Proteas in his difficult role, but of late is looking a rather more adhesive, wiser character in both one-day formats.

“He’s building his innings a bit more now and seems to play his best cricket when he has a few overs to get in,” said Hudson.

“That’s always better than expecting a guy to come in when there’s eight balls to go and just bang it out of the park. It takes special cricketers to do that and it often is a flash-in-the-pan event.

“Consistently now David seems to be coming in, setting himself, getting the board ticking and then stepping on the gas. That’s very encouraging, compared to where he was.”

As for De Kock, the 21-year-old batsman and wicketkeeper from the Lions, Hudson said he was maturing at a rate of knots and could feel confident about another crack at Subcontinental conditions after toughening, learning experiences in national colours in both Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates (against Pakistan).

“Oh yes, he’s a sponge ... the more cricket he can play everywhere, the better. He’s an awesome talent. He’s got a big role to play in both the 20-overs and then 50-overs World Cups coming up.

“Quinton has also grown tremendously in terms of setting out his stall. There was a time when he couldn’t ‘measure’ properly how to play ... once the foot was down, it was down.

“Now he’ll get to 30 and instead be prepared to knock it around calmly for a bit, in order to genuinely build an innings. That’s a sign of maturity and it is awesome for us.”

De Kock’s last three appearances in the green Proteas shirt, of course, saw him register centuries each time against India and have many people clamouring for his call-up to the Test mix as well.

Hudson had largely welcoming news for those observers, on that score.

 “Whether he’s ready for Test cricket ... the jury’s out. But make no mistake, I don’t think it will be long before he is part of this squad as well, getting his chance.

“It’s great to have guys like Beuran Hendricks, Stiaan van Zyl and De Kock knocking, plus Dean Elgar still from within the greater Test squad.”

Cape Cobras left-arm seamer Hendricks was easily the leading wicket-taker in the just completed RAM SLAM T20 Challenge, and seems a hot tip as a new face in the squad.

Hudson said of him: “He’s certainly one of the young guys putting his hand up, not just in T20 but across the board -- the guys were really impressed with his ability in that warm-up match the Proteas played at the Wanderers for the first Test against Australia.

“You always want to be able to have left-armers running in and offering variety for you; Wayne Parnell is obviously in the same category. Beuran’s bowled well with new balls, bowled well at the death, so he certainly looks like a prospect.”

The selection boss cautioned against expecting too many surprises in the party.

“We’ve been working with a solid group of players so the likelihood is that 13 or 14 guys who have been part of that will go along (to the World T20).

“It’s also difficult to just throw new players straight into a World Cup-type of environment in Bangladesh. We’ve backed a batch of players so I don’t think you should expect too many surprises, even if there’s always got to be room for some X-factor a new guy might enhance the side with.

“Conditions are a lot different to what we’ve just had locally, but you do also have to have some regard for guys who could come in from left field, through (weight of) performance, and show the necessary skills to adapt to the environment we’ll face.”

It did not escape Hudson’s notice that close rivals the Aussies have picked two serious veterans – Brad Hogg, 43, and Brad Hodge, 39 – for the global event.

Domestically, there is still a lobby who fancy the credentials of pretty seasoned performers like Albie Morkel, Justin Kemp and Roelof van der Merwe, although Hudson was relatively cagey on the topic.

“Experience is always a key strength to have. We’ll have a look where our gaps are; where we need shoring up.

“Sometimes it’s only one or two games you need (experienced) players like that to win you. Someone like a Roelof can come in and get a quick 30 for you and clinch you a game from nowhere ... then he’s pretty much done his job, hasn’t he?

“It’s about thinking: have we got someone who could come in and do Dale Steyn’s job if he suddenly breaks down? Or God forbid, if something happens to David Miller, have we got someone who can do his finishing job with the bat?

“Those are important things to consider when you’re putting a squad together.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  quinton de kock  |  david miller  |  cricket
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