After a pre-season test series victory against New Zealand, the Proteas begin their summer in earnest with a one-off one-day international (ODI) against Ireland in Benoni today before a five-match series against Australia. Chief among their objectives is the climb from fourth back to the top of the rankings.
A series win
I think it’s always important. There’s no doubt Australia are the number one ODI side in the world at the moment and we want to test ourselves and see how our side is shaping up. We were disappointed in the West Indies, but generally we’ve been good in one-day cricket. It’s a good opportunity for some players to make a big play for their country and cement their places because there are still one or two spots that are being questioned.
The all-rounder question
It’s great to have competition for places; we’ve got four really good all-rounders at the moment. We’ve got Andile (Phehlukwayo), Dwayne Pretorius, Chris Morris and Wayne Parnell all vying for one or two spots. I hope it brings out the best in those players. Like I’ve said previously, all-rounders are an invaluable part of any format and it’s something we’ve been grappling to come to terms with. Hopefully, these players can step up and put in performances that warrant selection.
Continuing to experiment with more than one spinner
A side like Australia historically doesn’t seem to play spin that well. To have another wrist spin option (Tabraiz Shamsi) to go with the control of an Aaron Phangiso and the quality of an Imran Tahir gives us more options when we play against them, particularly the coastal wickets like Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. It might be an option to play two spinners there.
Getting some overs under Dale Steyn’s belt
Getting him in the one-day side bodes well for us because we’ll get some overs under his belt ahead of a big tour to Australia. That will benefit the team massively. The hunger he’s shown over the past couple of weeks has been excellent, so hopefully he can maintain those standards going into the series and into the Australian test series.
How Temba Bavuma goes as an opener against Ireland
Temba has really good attributes for an opening batter. He’s really good in terms of his technique, he’s a guy who can bat for long periods of time and he can hit the bad ball for four. At this stage of his one-day career, he’s probably not suited to coming in at five and six and trying to hit fours and sixes at the back of an innings. If he hits a good cricket shot in the first five or six overs, it’ll go for four, whereas if he hits a good cricket shot in the last 10 overs, it might go for one.
So it’s a nice spot for him to try and find a niche in one-day cricket. He has opened the batting for the Lions on one or two occasions, so I’m very excited to see what he can offer. Hopefully he can add something different to our one-day batting as well. He’s obviously not an easy guy to bowl at because of his stature, so it might present him with some scoring opportunities.