Cape Town - The Proteas move to Chittagong on Wednesday in danger of losing the three-match ODI series against Bangladesh.
After two T20s and the first ODI it looked like the Proteas would canter through the limited overs portion of their tour.
But then on Sunday in Mirpur their scratchy batting display saw them crash back down to earth against an extremely accurate Bangladesh bowling attack.
It is hard to draw any real conclusions from what we have seen on the tour so far, but here are a few things that have stood out.
Kagiso Rabada is clearly a find. Even in Sunday’s loss, he picked up two of the three Bangladesh wickets. He is quick, exciting, has a beautiful action and – most importantly – he is 20. Rabada is a massive prospect for the future of South African cricket as the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel reach the twilight of their careers. But how Rabada is managed will be important. He is line to make his Test debut in Bangladesh, but how will he be used moving forward? Does he have to play every game he can to get to the top as quickly as possible? Or should he be nurtured, protected and selected strategically to ease him into the rigours of international cricket?
THE DE KOCK STRUGGLE
De Kock’s struggle at the World Cup has continued into the Bangladesh series. He still averages over 37 in the format, but in his last 11 innings he has past 50 just once. We are always reassured that the quality is there with De Kock, and that a big knock is always around the corner, but at what point should the Proteas try another option at the top of the order? Moving down a bit might also benefit De Kock’s ‘keeping, which has battled at times too.
The number seven role continues to be problematic for the Proteas, with a number of names flying around when discussing who our genuine all-rounder should be. Farhaan Behardien was given the role in the first two ODIs, while Chris Morris is also being considered. Ryan McLaren, meanwhile, is sitting on the bench waiting for a look in. There are pros and cons for all three, but we certainly appear nowhere closer to knowing who that man should be.
Faf du Plessis led the side during the T20s and appears well adjusted. He is no stranger to the captaincy, but he has been particularly impressive with bat in hand. With Hashim Amla not in the runs and AB de Villiers absent, the Proteas are looking for other sources of runs and Du Plessis is stepping up. Let’s hope that on Wednesday somebody else does too.