Proteas' sixth bowler dilemma

2016-03-08 11:02
JP Duminy (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - If there ever was a time for a sixth bowler to be introduced into the Proteas attack, Sunday was it. 

David Wiese (4-0-58-0) was under the pump, feeling the wrath of the combined masterclass that was the David Warner/Glenn Maxwell partnership, but if captain Faf du Plessis had scanned the Wanderers outfield looking for alternatives then he wouldn't have come across many.

The only realistic options for Du Plessis on Sunday were JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien, and neither has put up his hand up at this stage. 

Duminy has gone for 40 runs in the two overs he has bowled across last month's T20 series against England and the current one against Australia, while Behardien has bowled just two overs in his entire T20I career (24 matches). 

On Sunday, those were the options for Du Plessis, but he might have even fewer at the ICC World Twenty20 in India this month if Behardien, as expected, does not feature in the starting XI. 

Duminy has been struggling with his bowling for a while now, and it should be of major concern to Proteas management.

His figures against England over the ODI series were 0/75 in 9 overs, while in his last 10 ODIs since the 2015 Cricket World Cup he has taken just two wickets at an average of 144 and at 6.54 to the over.

At the moment there seems to be a battle for the final middle-order position being fought between Behardien and Rilee Rossouw, while Dale Steyn and Kyle Abbott look like they are vying for one spot. 

This is all presuming that the selectors back both David Wiese and Chris Morris in the lower order - something that didn't seem likely just a month or two ago. 

Such a scenario would leave the Proteas with five specialist bowlers, and the only way they could rectify that would be to throw away the Behardien/Rossouw middle-order slot and play both Abbott and Steyn. 

That would shorten the batting, and while the Proteas would still have the big-hitting Morris and Wiese coming in at No 6 and 7, there wouldn't be much else to follow in the way of clean strikers. 

It is a decision that will require a lot of thought, but if team selection over the last four T20Is is anything to go by, then it appears the brains trust is leaning towards going batting-heavy. 

That means that Duminy, and to a lesser extent Behardien, need to get their acts together quickly. 

"It’s only the two of them," Proteas bowling coach Charl Langeveldt told Sport24 on Monday, referring to Duminy and Behardien as the extra bowling options after Sunday's nail-biting loss to Australia.

"Everything about T20 is confidence. A guy like JP is a talent … he’s the type of guy that can take you a wicket and he’s a partnership breaker.

"We need to get JP in the mold where he can at least bowl two overs.

"Fudgie has been bowling … I’ve been working with him and if he has to bowl one over that’s completely up to the captain on the field.

"We need to get these guys ready to bowl if the bowlers are travelling."

Time, though, is not on South Africa's side and Duminy needs to quickly rediscover what he has lost. 

As bad as Wiese was on Sunday - the 11th-worst bowling figures for a completed four-over spell in T20 cricket - in Du Plessis' mind he was still a more attractive option than Duminy ... and that speaks volumes.

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