Cape Town – If
variety is the spice of life, South Africa’s selectors look like having a
broader stock of players to choose from soon for Twenty20 international
purposes, courtesy of the Mzansi Super League.
overspill into the other white-ball arena - one-day internationals - is also
quite possible, even if the Proteas probably have more settled,
clearly-identified resources at this point in the 50-overs game.
internationals have limited gravitas – though they can put healthy numbers of
bums on seats – whenever there is still some way to go to the next ICC World
Twenty20 tournament (now to be called the ICC T20 World Cup and held roughly
every two years).
period has been an exception, with a gap of four years between the last one,
held in India in 2016, and the next due to be hosted by Australia in 2020.
now and the Aussie event, most international teams are going to gradually start
taking their T20 plans more seriously.
very likely include the Proteas, who played a once-off T20 international at the
tail-end of their successful white-ball tour Down Under recently and, not
without justification, simply kept their ODI personnel there to complete the
tour-closer on the Gold Coast.
the cost saving involved in not flying over additional troops simply for one
less-than-heavyweight match, it also meant that the MSL wasn’t deprived of even
more national-calibre players at the start of the maiden league – a situation
that was never going to be ideal.
But the next
few months will see the Proteas play all-formats home series against Pakistan
and Sri Lanka respectively, including three T20 internationals in each
instance, so expect the SA team to begin to look considerably more “specialist”
for the shortest brand of the game.
fresh faces have been blooded in early 2018/19, including batsmen Rassie van
der Dussen and Gihahn Cloete, who made debuts against Zimbabwe; the former has
made his mark by including a half-century in his two international innings thus
As the round-robin
phase of the MSL draws toward a close, though, and inadvertently aided by the
limited presence of overseas stars in its midst, the tournament is throwing up
promising additional candidates for consideration down the line by Linda Zondi
and his fellow national selectors.
reflected in the lists for leading run-scorers and wicket-takers at this point,
featuring several names you would not automatically have branded credible options
for SA selection at the outset of the MSL.
running second to the sensational Reeza Hendricks – a reasonably established
Proteas player – for most runs is the Cape Town Blitz’s 22-year-old Janneman
Malan (279 at an average of a touch under 40).
Nelspruit-born right-hander has been eye-openingly consistent throughout the
MSL, his seven appearances seeing him contribute meaningfully just about every
time; he has not registered less than 19 yet at the crease, and has a top score
of 66 among his two half-tons.
previously unheralded 22-year-old lies seventh on the batting chart, Jozi
Stars’ Ryan Rickelton – the former SA Schools left-hander - having accumulated
187 runs at 31, including a scorching 91 (strike rate 154 on what is not
normally the quickest of surfaces) in only his second MSL exposure against Paarl
Rocks at Boland Park.
bowling list, meanwhile, three emerging South African non-internationals occupy
berths among the top six scalp-grabbers in the competition as things stand.
touted by his captain AB de Villiers, Tshwane Spartans speedster Lutho Sipamla,
a particularly callow 20, already boasts a trio of “three-fors” in his seven
MSL outings giving him a total of 12 dismissals so far and second place for
A new spin
prospect is on the brew, too, with Paarl Rocks’ left-armer Bjorn Fortuin – a
local product, which is always pleasing – showing some good control when asked
to bowl often at the outset of opponents’ innings; he is joint-fourth with nine
tournament was sadly cut very short by injury, the Blitz’s Anrich Nortje had
shown a combination of real hostility and admirable discipline in three games,
snaring eight wickets in his three outings.
Cape man, 25, looks invitingly like a replacement for the great Dale Steyn when
the Phalaborwa Express eventually chugs into the sunset …
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