Fringe Proteas must stand up

2015-01-17 15:00
Rilee Rossouw (AFP)

Cape Town – South Africa look about 90 percent of a really good one-day international team ... but might that extra 10 percent of possible liability cost them dearly at crunch time in the World Cup?

It is for that reason that some of their reasonably peripheral players in the 15-man squad would do well to allay fears in the remainder of the five-match series against West Indies, ideally beginning with game two at the Wanderers on Sunday (10:00 start).

While there were several pluses to the Proteas’ comfortably winning performance in the rain-interrupted opener in Durban on Friday, it would have been noticeable to the more discerning pundits that they relied quite heavily again on various “old-firmers” to provide the statistically weighty stuff.

First their batting innings was resuscitated by established heavyweights Hashim Amla (66) and AB de Villiers (81) after some early peril with both Rilee Rossouw and Faf du Plessis bundled out for ducks before completion of five overs.

Meanwhile the later bowling effort was characterised by three-wicket hauls for each of further, relatively seasoned personnel in Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Imran Tahir.

There was also, admittedly, the bonus at his home ground of David Miller, who is just running into a nice little trot of form and confidence in Proteas limited-overs colours, lashing a purposeful, sweet stroke-laden 70.

It came significantly from the No 5 position, where he took guard before the advent of the 20th over, so it was manna for those who feel the hard-hitting left-hander best serves the cause by getting in well ahead of the “slog” toward the end of the innings.

But once again South Africa laboured to cash in properly on the last 10-12 overs despite a decent platform having been laid for the assault, and Farhaan Behardien again failed to provide any special gusto from the problematic No 7 berth, nudging 12 runs between the 41st and 44th overs before rather needlessly running himself out.

This supposed all-rounder-of-sorts was also not called upon to bowl: no special problem in the context of Friday’s relatively easily-banked match, but he could do with some overs soon in anticipation of CWC duty with his medium-pacers if picked.

At least he reminded of his smartness in the field, with a direct hit to run out Marlon Samuels, although the jury will remain out about what he offers the Proteas’ World Cup assault in more core areas.

Another duck for Rossouw, likely to be the “first reserve” batsman at the global event, adds to the fear that a worrying trend in that regard is developing for the 25-year-old from the Free State.

He now sports six noughts from 16 international appearances across the two one-day formats, although there was no culpability in his dismissal for that score in Wednesday’s closing Twenty20 fixture – he skied one in the 19th over of the SA knock with umpteen wickets in hand and a go-for-broke need very much in force.

Still, if the pattern (not great for a batsman’s mental comfort) continues, and for some reason Rossouw gets to take guard against, say, joint-hosts Australia at an advanced stage of the World Cup, just imagine the quacking noises likely to greet his arrival from the devilish, merciless David Warner and company?

It is a cold fact that after 10 ODIs now for his country, Rossouw averages a near-feeble 14.50 -- even if we have also sporadically seen signs of real venom in his batting.

On the bowling front, left-arm seamer Wayne Parnell wasn’t considered worthy of a start in Durban, probably a sign of how inconsistent he has been.

Deep down, he will be as aware as anyone that he has all too seldom taken one-dayers by storm since his striking introduction to international rigours in 2009, when he grabbed both of his ODI career five-fors thus far in the space of a mere two months against New Zealand and England respectively.

Question: how often since has he been a genuine match-winner?

So a borderline trooper or two – whether Parnell gets a gig or not -- delivering the goods in a meaningful way at the Bullring on Sunday would be a very timely development ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  rilee rossouw  |  cricket

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