Cape Town – Wiaan
Mulder and Reeza Hendricks, the former inconveniently dormant and the latter
unproductive again at Kingsmead on Sunday, may slowly be losing their footholds
on World Cup places for South Africa.
selectors will name a revised squad on Monday for the closing two one-day
internationals against Sri Lanka – St George’s Park on Wednesday and Newlands
on Saturday – and some batsmen, in particular, who missed the first three have
presented extremely strong cases for recall for SA’s last scheduled 50-overs
matches ahead of CWC 2019 which begins in May in England.
doubt still swirls around the absence of veteran Hashim Amla, who has also
missed most recent activity for the Cape Cobras in the Momentum One-Day Cup for
family-related reasons, both Aiden Markram and JP Duminy have issued deafening
calls domestically for a return to the mix.
14-strong party named for the initial part of the bilateral series was
noticeably top-heavy in bowling resources, a situation that was masked in Sunday’s
third game at Kingsmead as the Proteas, batting first, posted a very welcome
“biggie” of 331 for five and went on to win comfortably and seal the series
there were several pleasing cameos, the innings was also once again powered
primarily by the red-hot Quinton de Kock at the top of the order, and it is
hardly a secret that he will be a critical figure in South Africa’s sometimes
fickle batting arsenal at the World Cup.
De Kock’s 14th
ODI ton (121 off 108 balls) was also his first in 18 knocks in the format,
though that hasn’t stopped him from being wonderfully consistent against the
‘Lankans: it was a follow-up to earlier scores in the series of 94 and 81.
Throw in the
fact that he notched 83 in the last ODI of the prior series against Pakistan,
and he seems in roughly the same rich vein of form as he experienced as a much younger
player in December 2013, when he lashed three centuries in a row (135, 106 and
101) in a compressed home series against India.
Proteas supporters will be hoping he doesn’t develop a speed wobble -- given
that form is somehow always as temporary as they say it is -- and he must still
negotiate the frenetic demands of the IPL for Mumbai Indians at T20 level
before heading to the UK with the national side.
rain-affected match, which reduced the Sri Lankan chase to a near-farce as they
lost more than half of their overs and were left with an unrealistic
Duckworth-Lewis mini-target after nightfall, did help stiffen the CWC claims of
two all-rounders, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius.
produced the sort of flamboyance at the back end of the Proteas’ knock that he
is often renowned for, getting in some meaty blows and some of a more cleverly
caressed variety, too, en route to a whirlwind 38 not out off just 15
the slightly more conservative-styled but increasingly reliable Pretorius also
looked suitably constructive and composed at the crease in his innings of 31,
and was parsimonious in a short bowling spell for good measure.
look increasingly look the right blend, given their differing strengths, as
bowling all-rounders at the World Cup, and that could spell bad news for
Mulder, who wore a side-line bib on Sunday and is fast running out of
opportunities – will there even be more for him now? – to produce something
beyond the relatively mundane in his fledgling international career before the
“loser” at Kingsmead was Hendricks, the only batsman among the front-liners to
fail (he scored four) on the day: he has registered 34 runs from three
completed innings in the series, so subsiding at a bad time.
He is one of
those cricketers who can look a million dollars on a good day, as he has a few
times already for the Proteas, but he has also been dismissed for single-figure
scores nine times now in his 17 ODI knocks and that will be a mounting concern.
Markram is a
clear and present danger to Hendricks at the top of the order -- though first
the former has to actually earn that recall from selection convener Linda Zondi
for the embers of this series that many in the public and press are positively
long-serving, fit-again Duminy will be confirmed as returning to the squad on
Monday can virtually be regarded as a foregone conclusion: he was among the
players on the SA balcony during the Kingsmead fixture so seems to have
reported to camp, as it were.
while not quite as prolific as Markram over the last few days, has been getting
nicely back into the groove himself with successive innings as Cobras captain
of 62 and 74 not out, and his off-spin contribution balances the Proteas’
line-up ideally at times.
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