Good finishers a priority

2011-11-01 13:18

Cape Town - Finding good finishing batsmen will be a priority for the national selectors when they cast their eye over performances during the 1 Day Cup competition which starts around the country this week.

An important sub-plot will be the opportunity for AB de Villiers to get back in the middle after his hand injury ahead of the Test series against Australia. He will have the injury re-X-rayed on Thursday and, if he gets the necessary medical clearance, he will play for the Titans on Sunday.

The recent ODI series against Australia confirmed the performance of the Proteas' Test squad during the 2011 ICC World Cup: that the team is strong in most areas of batting and bowling but that they lack the finishing power that the likes of Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener provided in the golden era of the late 1990s and more recently by Albie Morkel.

The ICC rankings confirm the overall health of the squad. Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers are ranked No 1 and No 2 among the batsmen with Jacques Kallis also in the top 10 and JP Duminy and Graeme Smith just outside the top 20.

Morne Morkel has dropped off the No 1 ranking he held last week but he, Dale Steyn and Lonwabo Tsotsobe are all in the top 11 while Johan Botha’s form against Australia has also got him back into the top 20.

Albie Morkel was not selected for the World Cup and he will no doubt be keen to make an early statement. His franchise, the Titans, play the opening match on Wednesday (15:00) against the Highveld Lions at SuperSport Park.

The other four franchises will open their campaigns on Friday while all six franchises will be in action on Sunday. This means that all the franchises will have played two matches by the end of the weekend.

Form in this competition will be particularly relevant to the national selectors as the playing conditions are identical to those used for ODIs.

The franchises players will have to get used to two new balls neither of which gets used for more than 25 overs. There are also changed conditions to the taking of the power plays while the banning of runners for batsmen will put a premium on fitness.

There is one important change to the qualification for the knock-out stage. The franchise that tops the log goes automatically to the final while the second and third placed teams will play off in a single semi-final.

Fixtures for this week:

Titans v Highveld Lions, SuperSport Park, 15:00

Warriors v Knights, Buffalo Park, 15:00
Dolphins v Cape Cobras, Kingsmead, 15:00

Dolphins v Warriors, Pietermaritzburg Oval, 10:00
Highveld Lions v Cape Cobras, Wanderers Stadium, 10:00
Titans v Knights, Willowmoore Park, 10:00

Note: No extra time is allowed in the event of bad weather and overs will be discounted immediately for playing time lost.