Cape Town - Ah, the good old No 7 spot in
the order ... South Africa have suffered one-day international angst and
instability there for several years.
In a nutshell, they’ve laboured to fill it
convincingly ever since that exemplary bowling all-rounder Shaun Pollock
finally quit ODIs (after a mighty 303 caps) against West Indies at the
Wanderers in February 2008.
“Polly” didn’t always bat there - it could
depend on the balance of the team from one game to another - but he was a
comforting choice in the slot when required to do so.
The Proteas certainly appear to have moved
on from the 34-year-old Albie Morkel, who never quite caught fire regularly enough
with either his power-hitting or seam bowling and hasn’t graced the ODI arena
since 2012 - although he has wrestled some fairly serious injury demons since.
More recently, another thirtysomething,
bowling-heavy all-rounder in Ryan McLaren was recalled for the Bangladesh
mini-series - a slightly undignified 2-1 reverse for the tourists - but didn’t
get a game and is back in the cold, whilst patience has also run out for the
moment with the younger Wayne Parnell, 26, currently representing SA ‘A’ in an
The men left to try to clear the lingering
No 7 fog, then, are incumbent Farhaan Behardien - who leans more toward
batting as strongest suit but averages a humdrum 25.88 with the blade and
remains very much an “occasional” medium-pacer - and a fresh face in his wiry Titans
colleague David Wiese.
The 30-year-old’s inclusion in the ODI
squad announced by the selection panel on Tuesday for the three-game home New
Zealand series later this month seems significant: it is unlikely both players
will make the cut in the XI, and that Wiese’s encouraging showings in Twenty20
internationals are finally going to be acknowledged through a crack in the slightly
longer limited-overs format.
So unless there is going to be a show of
ongoing confidence - though that may well not be the most appropriate word - in
much-maligned “Fudge”, expect Wiese to see at least some action from No 7
against the Black Caps.
Hostilities begin at a familiar base for
him, SuperSport Park in Centurion, on August 19, after the T20 portion where he
seems a more clear-cut pick.
Wiese has only batted five times, including
two not outs, in T20 internationals but he is the sort of bludgeoner the
Proteas seek in the lower middle order to ease the pressure on ever-improving
David Miller to provide the broken roof tiles all the time.
Nor is it as though Wiese is simply a crude
slogger: he has qualities in durability and decent defence as well, as
evidenced by as many as nine first-class centuries, and one of the double
variety (his career-best 208).
What perhaps gives him an edge over
Behardien, though, is the greater likelihood that he could be safely entrusted
with “fifth bowler” duty against New Zealand.
That is probably going to be important
because of the unavailability on paternity leave of batsman JP Duminy, who so
often provides healthy salvoes of very credible off-spin and thus balances the
side pretty crucially.
In his absence the Proteas will be forced,
by my calculation, to field six front-line batsmen (including recalled
wicketkeeper Morne van Wyk) and then have positions seven to 11 all filled by
players with the need and capability to offer full 10-over quotas.
Based on his decent T20 international stats
(17 scalps from 10 games at 12.76 and economy of below seven runs to the over),
Wiese seems up for that task; any extra bowling may have to come from that
surprise package slow-medium factor De Villiers if an intended main member of
the attack takes unacceptable tap.
Given how far out we are from the next CWC,
in England in distant 2019, this is as ideal a time as any to experiment with
Wiese in the 50-overs environment and attempt to end that infuriating Achilles
Heel at No 7.
There shouldn’t be much wrong with his
bowling confidence, at the very least, given that it is still well less than a
month ago that he grabbed a five-for for his Caribbean Premier League
franchise, the Guyana Amazon Warriors, against eventual finalists Barbados
He is never going to be another SM Pollock
... few will.
But Wiese warrants a chance to become the
modern, best possible component at No 7 for South Africa.
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing