Pretorius won't lie down in Proteas all-rounder race

2019-03-08 12:35
Dwaine Pretorius (Gallo)
Dwaine Pretorius (Gallo)

Cape Town - Just as it seemed like he was falling behind in the race for a place in the Proteas' World Cup squad, Dwaine Pretorius hit back on Thursday with a stellar performance for the Lions in the One Day Cup. 

Pretorius was caught on the fence trying to hit the last ball of the match for a maximum with his side needing four runs for victory.

Out for 99 off 105 balls (3x4, 5x6) having come to the wicket at 73/4 in the Lions' pursuit of 282 for victory, Pretorius showed superb concentration, shot-making ability and maturity to get his side out of what seemed an unsalvageable situation.  

Pretorius also left with tidy figures of 2/46 from his 9 overs, but it was undoubtedly his batting that would have caught the attention of Proteas coach Ottis Gibson and skipper Faf du Plessis

Ahead of the ongoing Sri Lanka series, Gibson suggested to SuperSport's Mike Haysman that Pretorius's Lions team-mate, Wiaan Mulder, was the frontrunner to bat at No 7 at the World Cup. 

Gibson rates Mulder incredibly highly and there is no doubting his bright international future, but the 21-year-old is yet to deliver a performance in Proteas colours that suggests he is undeniably the man to be backed. 

A couple of months ago, Du Plessis explained that the World Cup allrounder needed to possess a 70/30 split between batting and bowling ability, respectively. 

With Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir and Dale Steyn expected to lead what would be a world class bowling attack, the Proteas need their allrounder to significantly lengthen their batting.

Regular top order collapses have haunted this South African side in both short and long formats over the last two years, while the fear of that happening in a crunch World Cup contest is understandably very real.

If it does, and the Proteas find themselves in a 70/5 situation with plenty of overs to bat, then Pretorius could be the best bet. 

While his batting opportunities have been limited for the Proteas - he has just 7 knocks in 17 caps - Pretorius has shown an ability to change gears at franchise level that will do his World Cup chances no harm. 

He can consolidate, he can keep it ticking over and when the situation demands it, he can clear the ropes. 

When one factors in his bowling, and that he would effectively be a third-change option, then Pretorius emerges as a potentially valuable asset. 

There is, of course, hot competition. 

Andile Phehlukwayo, a certainty for the World Cup, has also been in good touch with the willow at franchise level in recent weeks. 

As pleasing as it has been to see the Dolphins man find some form with the bat, it remains a stretch to refer to him as a batting allrounder. 

Bowling, and death bowling in particular, remains Phehlukwayo's strength and it may be viewed as surplus to requirements if the Proteas field the deadly abovementioned attack. 

It all depends on balance, of course, and South Africa could even consider going in without a specialist allrounder in their starting XI. 

That could see JP Duminy batting as deep as No 7 and sharing 10 overs with Aiden Markram.

In terms of the make-up of the 15-man squad, however, there are some big decisions ahead when it comes to the allrounders. 

The general feeling is that there will be room for two. 

With Phehlukwayo all but guaranteed a spot, that leaves Pretorius and Mulder fighting it out for the other while Chris Morris is also making a late surge despite being seemingly out of favour.

Up until Thursday night, Mulder seemed to be edging ahead in the race, but Pretorius has given a stark reminder of his capabilities and the reason he was made part of the World Cup plans in the first place. 

There are just three ODIs to go against Sri Lanka and that will be South Africa's last international cricket before the World Cup squad is announced. 

This is the time for those on the fringes to make statements, and Pretorius certainly made one on Thursday. 

If he gets a game for the Proteas over the next few days and performs again, then he will be difficult to ignore. 

Who would you rather have in your World Cup squad? Dwaine Pretorius or Wiaan Mulder? Let us know @Sport24News and @LloydBurnard ...


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