Cape Town – Only
if they still have certain, unexpected curveballs in mind should the national
selectors have reason to feel their work is incomplete as far as the Proteas’
World Cup squad is concerned.
of a 5-0 clean sweep of Sri Lanka in the ODI series, albeit secured by the
Duckworth/Lewis method after the highly irksome failure of a floodlight tower
at Newlands, will be viewed by many observers as having closed any remaining
business by Linda Zondi’s panel for CWC 2019.
In short, 14
of the 15 players chosen for the last two fixtures in this one-sided series
look increasingly likely to proceed onward to England in the second half of May
… with the addition of veteran batting ace Hashim Amla, currently absent only
for family illness reasons, in place of Reeza Hendricks.
Sri Lankan series was well less than ideal because South Africa were never
seriously stretched – that is always the best barometer of both ability and
temperament – very few outsiders now seem likely to leapfrog incumbents in the
thing, the Proteas have wrapped up their 50-overs business for the season, with
just three relatively low-value Twenty20 internationals to follow against the
require some truly special showings from an individual or two in what is left
of the domestic Momentum One Day Cup (the tournament ends on March 31) to force
a significant rethink by the wise men.
seemingly fog-clearing development at Newlands was Aiden Markram picking an ideal
moment to cement his hold on a place: when the players were forced from the
field, admittedly with the host nation in firm control of the chase, the young
Titans stroke-player had an unbeaten 67.
looking increasingly commanding even on a pitch becoming noticeably uneven in
bounce and had, in fact, just eclipsed his previous best ODI score of 66 on
debut against Bangladesh at East London early last season.
to a pleasing close, at least for the time being, a penchant for what
SuperSport commentator Mike Haysman rightly branded “lots of sparkling 20s and
30s” in the format from his broad blade, which had understandably drawn some
negative sentiment from critics.
under some pressure to deliver at Newlands, bearing in mind the massive event
just ahead on the calendar, and he lived dangerously early on, including
surviving a sharp caught-and-bowled attempt on two and also a near run-out to a
24-year-old grew and grew in authority and composure after those moments of
fortune and was looking pretty well set – although there was a fair bit still
to do -- to finally add a century in this landscape to his well-lauded four already
in Test cricket.
excellence as a fielder also came to the fore a couple of times on the day, and
that is not something to be under-estimated as the Proteas carry a few players
either not renowned for their mobility or afflicted by concerns over their
throwing arms after injuries.
raw paceman Anrich Nortje, another relatively fringe customer, also did his
World Cup claims absolutely no harm as he returned figures of two for 35 in only
three balls short of a full 10-over quota at Newlands.
aggressive, his control was also better than some more experienced seamers in
the SA attack on Saturday and, after four ODIs (though all against the same
humdrum foes), he now sports eight wickets at an average of 18.75 and a just as
pleasing economy rate of 4.76.
occasional waywardness of other bowlers did inspire iconic former national
captain Graeme Smith to mention in commentary that he still has some
reservations on that front.
he felt “Plan B” continued to look suspect in circumstances where the Proteas
attack wasn’t able to simply bomb teams out with sheer pace.
they do when they come up against a really flat track at the World Cup, say at
a ground with small boundaries?” he asked.
the SA squad looks increasingly nailed down: few surprises seem in store when
their CWC hand is finally revealed toward the end of April.
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