Proteas

Faf acknowledges 2019 World Cup juggling act

2019-01-02 19:03
Faf du Plessis (Gallo)
Faf du Plessis (Gallo)

Cape Town - The Proteas play their first cricket of 2019 when the second Test against Pakistan gets underway at Newlands on Thursday. 

Test cricket, as most international cricketers will tell you, is the pinnacle of the sport and for that reason it is a massive occasion every time South Africa wears white. 

2019, however, is different. 

It might mean more to the Proteas than the other top-tier nations given their history of failure at the tournament, but this is a World Cup year and that will be the priority between now and South Africa's opener at The Oval against hosts England on May 30. 

The Proteas have tried, and failed, on seven separate occasions to win the World Cup and the nightmares of 1999 and 2015, in particular, still haunt fans of the game in these parts. 

All roads this year lead to a Lord's final on July 19, so a home Test series against a struggling Pakistan might not seem the most important task for the Proteas at the moment. 

"It's certainly something that is always in the back of my head," skipper Faf du Plessis said of the World Cup while in Cape Town on the eve of the second Test. 

"You're continuously thinking about decisions that will impact it."

Du Plessis had confirmed earlier in his press conference that Duanne Olivier, the hero of the first Test at Centurion, would play at Newlands.

With Vernon Philander back, it means that one of Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj or Theunis de Bruyn will fall out of the XI. 

Should the Proteas want to go with batting depth and a front-line spinner, then one of Rabada or Steyn might be rested. 

With the World Cup in mind, Steyn becomes a potentially attractive option given his troubles with injury over the last two years and the fact that he is considered a key part of South Africa's plans in England this year.

But Du Plessis says it is still too early in the year to start thinking about work loads with the World Cup in mind. 

"It's still too far out to start making decisions now that will impact the World Cup," he said.

"Probably closer to the World Cup you will see us make decisions like that.

"It's always important to stay in the present because if you look at the World Cup the whole time you will lose sight of what's going on in front of you."

More of a concern to Du Plessis than Test duty is the upcoming IPL, which runs from March 29 - May 19 and features several Proteas. 

Rabada, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi and Imran Tahir are the main South African bowlers who will play in the IPL while Quinton de Kock, Heinrich Klaasen and Du Plessis are set to feature as batsmen.

"The obvious one for me is the IPL," Du Plessis said.

"It's just before the World Cup and the last thing you want is one of your bowlers getting injured just before the tournament.

"It's something that is a concern for us and we need to look at how we can play that scenario out best."

 

 

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Saturday, 19 January 2019
South Africa v Pakistan, , Port Elizabeth 13:00
Tuesday, 22 January 2019
South Africa v Pakistan, Durban 13:00
Friday, 25 January 2019
South Africa v Pakistan, Centurion 13:00
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