Cape Town – It
would go heavily against head coach Ottis Gibson’s more traditional instincts.
But with the
liberty now to exercise some freedom in the two remaining, dead-rubber ODIs
against a pretty demoralised and ordinary-looking Sri Lankan outfit, would it
really be an outrageous step for South Africa to put some staffing-related
pressure on their bowling attack for a change?
words, they should seriously contemplate – whether it is in Wednesday’s
imminent fourth clash at St George’s Park or at Newlands on Saturday – fielding
only four out-and-out bowlers and trialling a fifth 10-over component coming
from the combination of batting off-spinners JP Duminy and Aiden Markram.
also give the Proteas the opportunity to employ all seven batsmen in their current,
15-strong squad … including an inviting reprieve for Reeza Hendricks, dropped
but then hastily recalled this week because of Hashim Amla’s unfortunate family
circumstances related to his seriously ill father.
earlier part of the series, they went contrastingly bowler-heavy – somehow this
has often seemed a theme from the national side this season, across the formats
– even to the extent at times of using rookie all-rounder Wiaan Mulder (now
axed) as high as the demanding No 5 berth.
Proteas get to the World Cup itself in England/Wales from late May, they will
encounter several different pitches: in the round-robin phase alone, they are
due to play at all of The Oval, Rose Bowl, Sophia Gardens, Edgbaston, Lord’s,
Chester-le-Street and Old Trafford.
conditions could also differ dramatically from one match and centre to another,
as they travel the length and breadth of the UK.
So it would
be relatively futile to start speculating too heavily on what their “ideal XI”
is at the tournament; horses for courses is a quite likely scenario.
department specifically, as well the questionable depth of stroke-play in the
slots further down the order, has been a source of concern for some time, and
it is just possible that at the World Cup the Proteas will be forced on
occasions to beef up their batting as much as they possibly can as a result of
imperfections at the crease.
sacrificing a frontline bowler is a risky exercise of its own, the Proteas
should always be in a position at the event to field a quartet of them who are
right up there with the best the planet has to offer.
batting would look so much more reassuring on paper, too, if someone like the
highly experienced Duminy – capable of being both an excellent finisher and
strike-rotator in the closing overs – was to take guard at No 7 (either that or
have David Miller stationed there, with Duminy at six).
raises the key question of whether a Duminy-Markram alliance for a 10-over
bowling quota is really feasible, bearing in mind that the latter isn’t even a
shoe-in yet for a starting position among the cream of the batsmen.
such a move might depend on on-day circumstances at the relevant venue; if the
pitch looks like a slow turner it would make slightly better sense.
Yet that is
exactly why it could be extremely educative for the Proteas to thrust the
responsibility into the pair’s joint-hands before the Sri Lankan series has
been wrapped up … and Wednesday’s venue in Port Elizabeth wouldn’t be the worst
place, given its historical reputation for sluggishness and turn.
desperately seldom bowls a “maximum” spell himself in ODIs, something borne out
by his statistical record from 129 bowling opportunities in his 192 matches in
the format: it has occurred only five times, the last against India at Newlands
in February last year.
But if he
was able to get through, say, six or seven competent overs himself as he has
done many times, having another part-time “offie” like Markram at hand for the
extra three or four wouldn’t be the daftest tactic ever to be witnessed on a
only bowled three times – and not yet more than three overs in any single stint
– in his 16-match ODI career thus far, but he has a useful List-A record in
that regard: 17 wickets at an average of 23 and economy rate of just beyond
five runs to the over.
Duminy-Markram alliance had an opportunity ahead of the World Cup to
demonstrate whether or not they could cut it as a fifth-bowling component, it
would help for any planning purposes in the more taxing heat of the tournament
But maybe we
shouldn’t hold our breath about it happening over the next few days?
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