Cape Town – Serious consideration should be given by the
Proteas to employing Kyle Abbott, the only unused seamer in their squad, in the
fourth one-day international against Australia at St George’s Park on Sunday.
The series is already safe at 3-0, and Abbott would not
weaken the side if he was infused even as they attempt to stay sufficiently
focused to earn an historic first-time clean sweep between the two nations in
the remaining combat at Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.
It makes some sense for South Africa to rest – perhaps for a
match each? -- either or both of their main specialist fast bowlers, Dale Steyn
and Kagiso Rabada, in what is left of the series.
Neither has been at his best up to now, a situation that
culminated in the pair recording their respective worst analyses in ODIs for a
full 10-over stint despite the thrilling victory at Kingsmead on Wednesday.
Steyn leaked 96 runs to “eclipse” Wayne Parnell (10-0-95-2
against India in Gwalior) for most expensive figures by a South African in the
50-overs arena, whilst the much younger Rabada conceded 86 from his own maximum
The Phalaborwa Express, who has otherwise made a very
stirring comeback at Test level thus far in the season, has been thumped for
198 runs (five wickets) from 27 overs in the ODI series, for an economy rate of
7.33, and Rabada (3/180 from 27 overs, economy 6.66) is also suffering,
admittedly on pitches that have largely been belters.
Both men need to be well rested and in good mental fettle
for the key three-Test series against the Baggy Greens on their own terrain in
November, and with Steyn still giving the impression that he is nursing his
right shoulder a bit, withdrawal for the remainder of this limited-overs series
wouldn’t be the worst step in the world.
That is where the often notably disciplined seamer Abbott
comes into the picture, particularly as he might well earn a further
opportunity to bring some calm to the “death overs” environment in the PE
The only drawback to the 29-year-old’s possible selection,
perhaps, is that he has had no competitive cricket for around two months, after
a mid-summer English county stint with Worcestershire.
But he is a seasoned enough campaigner to be able to slot
back in smoothly to a Proteas role nevertheless.
In his last ODI appearance at St George’s Park, in February,
he knocked over all of the England top three in recording figures of 3/58.
Despite the attractiveness of Abbott’s credentials for
Sunday – squad seam stocks have been limited by the withdrawals of Chris Morris
and Parnell – the Proteas may also mull over fielding an extra spinner at St
George’s Park, or even challenging one of Tabraiz Shamsi or Aaron Phangiso to
take over the exemplary “middle overs” duty from veteran leg-spinner Imran
Tahir with a view to the future.
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