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
“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
“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
“Those are important things to consider when you’re putting
a squad together.”
*Follow our chief
writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing