Proteas start CWC countdown
Cape Town - Thirteen games to go! The countdown starts on Friday at Bloemfontein’s OUTsurance Oval for the Proteas’ World Cup campaign.
They have 3 matches in the MTN ODI series against Zimbabwe, 5 against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates and a further 5 against India on home soil and, in the words of the Standard Bank ODI captain, Graeme Smith, “we hope to have a lot of answers after the Zimbabwe series”.
Smith was referring specifically to the opportunity being given to youngsters on the international stage. This has been caused in part by the desire of the selectors to freshen the squad and in part by the injuries that have put all of Dale Steyn, Jacques Kallis and Morne Morkel on the sidelines.
The attack was led by the 21-year-old Wayne Parnell in the second Standard Bank International Pro20 against Zimbabwe and that could well be the case again for the start of the MTN ODI series.
Then there is the matter of the correct balance of power hitters in the lower middle order and the role of AB de Villiers as wicketkeeper rather than as a specialist fielder.
“AB’s mindset will be vital,” commented Smith. “This is not something that is happening for a few games; AB has to see this as a long-term move as far as his limited overs career is concerned.”
Smith added that the presence of half-a-dozen specialist consultants, including some of the all-time greats of South African cricket, had done a lot to counter some of the inexperience in the current side.
“Just having their experience around was great, especially from a bowling perspective having guys around like Polly (Shaun Pollock) and Lance (Klusener). There are a lot of young bowlers around at the moment with the injuries to Steyn, Kallis and Morkel and to have them imparting their knowledge was fantastic. It gives these guys the chance to learn from the experience of the older guys at World Cups and generally throughout their careers.
“We had some very good discussion points around the lessons they have learned during their careers. And each of them had a specific role. Lance worked with the death hitters, Polly with the bowlers, Fletch (Duncan Fletcher) with the batters and Jonty (Rhodes) with the fielders.
“The guys thoroughly enjoyed it and it was a massive positive for us.
“We are inexperienced in many ways but you hope that the players who have been given the opportunity really take it. The guys have been given specific roles to fill in this series and they now get the chance to show they can do it at international level.”
The Proteas have a squad of 13 players available for Friday’s match which includes the trio of De Villiers, Parnell and Albie Morkel who have recovered from recent injuries and operations.
Colin Ingram and Rusty Theron are the two new caps in the squad.