Cape Town – South Africa should confidently feel able to
field all three of their new faces immediately when they play Ireland in a
once-off ODI at Benoni’s Willowmoore Park on Sunday week (September 25).
It is not particularly common for an international team to
blood that many first-timers at once, but given that the Proteas are playing on
home turf an Irish outfit ranked 12th on the global ladder – even
behind Afghanistan – such a move seems both safe and potentially educative.
If that happens, the already Test-capped Temba Bavuma, as well
as complete international novices Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius, will
be part of a new-look combo and sample ODI activity for the first time.
Neither of Bavuma or Pretorius stay in plans, among a more
extended and seasoned squad, for the five-match home series against Australia
shortly afterwards, so there seems little point in simply using them as “nets”
players for a few days and then releasing them – the challenge of the minnows
shapes up as a perfect opportunity to assess their worth for future purposes.
If anything, lower-order all-rounder Phehlukwayo’s debut could
be slightly delayed, as he does remain a member of the 16-strong party to then
face the Aussies, though earning a baptism against Ireland – especially if he
grabs it with both hands – could also help ease his passage into battle against
the considerably stiffer foes.
The 13-man group named for the Benoni fixture recently, for
all its experimental feel, still boasts a deft enough balance between youth and
experience, despite long-time ODI heavyweights like Hashim Amla, Imran Tahir
and Dale Steyn sitting out the “limb-loosener”.
There are still juggernaut batsmen available in the shape of
returning captain AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy;
I would anticipate all of them playing as insurance against any unlikely upset.
Also almost guaranteed to tackle the Irish, given that Tahir
and Tabraiz Shamsi only come into the picture against Australia, is left-arm
spinner Aaron Phangiso, the only SA slow-bowling specialist for Willowmoore
Park despite Duminy’s off-spin also being an option.
So that leaves the question, although on-day match
conditions are also bound to come into consideration, of which two of the 13
will miss out – my money at this long-range point would probably be placed on
Wayne Parnell and David Miller, both of whose strengths and weaknesses are
already well-known to the Proteas brains trust over a period of several years.
Parnell might become odd-man-out (although his left-arm
variety is to be factored in) in a veritable sea of bowling all-rounders,
meaning that SA field all of Pretorius, Phehlukwayo and Chris Morris in those
Here is a stab, admittedly well in advance, at a possible
Proteas XI against Ireland: Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma (there is reported
keenness to gauge the pint-sized competitor’s abilities up front), Faf du
Plessis, AB de Villiers (capt), JP Duminy, Farhaan Behardien, Dwaine Pretorius,
Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Aaron Phangiso.
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