Cape Town – South Africa’s alternative options are
desperately limited as they wrestle with the likelihood that JP Duminy has
joined Vernon Philander on the injury-enforced sidelines for Friday’s World Cup
match against West Indies in Sydney (05:30 SA time).
Although the batting all-rounder’s side strain, which
probably also puts him in doubt for the Ireland follow-up match, has not yet
seen him officially eliminated from contention for the SCG by Cricket South
Africa’s media department, reports strongly suggest the Proteas are down to 13
fit squad customers for the Windies date.
If confirmed, the Duminy setback will be a serious one from
a balance point of view given that he has effectively become the main versatile
customer in the ODI line-up since the retirement of Jacques Kallis.
There are suggestions that the labouring Farhaan Berhardien,
who has bits and pieces credentials, will come in for Duminy but I am not
convinced that is the route the brains trust should or will go because it would
probably mean the massive risk of the Titans medium-pacer sharing a fifth
bowler quota of overs with captain AB de Villiers.
That is something an in-form Chris Gayle or Marlon Samuels,
for instance, would prick up their ears about on what ought to be a typically
good Australian one-day batting deck despite a small chance of some rain
A better chance, maybe, is that South Africa will give the
unpredictable Wayne Parnell, who could be said to be well due a decent
performance, another crack at the No 7 berth which would also signal the start
of a specialist bowling line-up – and tail section with the blade -- then
comprising a recalled Kyle Abbott plus the older firm of Dale Steyn, Morne
Morkel and Imran Tahir.
De Villiers or Faf du Plessis, with his very occasional
“leggies”, would then only be needed as emergency bowling back-ups.
It is difficult to imagine, given the likely non-presence of
Duminy, that the Proteas would feel comfortable with entrusting Behardien with
the No 6 slot considering that many people aren’t even convinced about his
suitability to seven. Under such circumstances, it seems likelier he will miss
out altogether at the SCG.
Similarly, a place for extra squad spinner Aaron Phangiso
also seems difficult to create at this point, with the impressive Tahir instead
becoming lone provider of 10 overs of turning fare and the rest of the
frontline attack being all-seam.
That would also mean South Africa doing the logical thing by
bringing back left-hander Rilee Rossouw, scorer of two centuries in the recent
bilateral home series against Friday’s foes, into a reworked top six.
The only remaining head-scratcher would be where to station
Rossouw, who seems best suited to a berth at or near the top of the order; it
is possible wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, who is experiencing a lean little
trot as an opener, may be asked to switch to the middle order and more of a
“finishing” responsibility if there’s a good prior head of steam on the
Whichever way the Proteas reshuffle their resources to deal
with the latest setback, the Pool B fixture suddenly looks a nervier assignment
than would have been assumed ahead of the tournament.
This is arguably the best way the SA wise men can deal with
the mini-crisis on the injury front for the West Indies match (in batting
order): Hashim Amla, Rilee Rossouw, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, David
Miller, Quinton de Kock, Wayne Parnell, Kyle Abbott, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel,
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