Proteas: World Cup picture after Aussie series

2018-11-12 13:41
Dale Steyn
Dale Steyn (Getty)

Cape Town - There are still certain frailties, but the Proteas will be feeling pretty good about their World Cup chances right now. 

A series win of any kind in Australia will always be significant, but the fact that the Proteas ticked all of the boxes in Sunday's 3rd and final ODI in Hobart means that they leave in a fantastic space. 

There is a one-off T20I to go, but the focus now is almost exclusively on planning for the World Cup in England next year. 

There are just six months to go before the start of that tournament and South Africa only have 10 ODIs - five against Pakistan and five against Sri Lanka - pencilled in between now and then. 

As Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing wrote on Sunday, it looks like the Proteas have settled on their formula of four specialist seamers and one allrounder at No 7. 

But there are still a number of difficult conversations ahead for coach Ottis Gibson and the selectors. 

Hashim Amla and JP Duminy must still come back into the fray and room will have to be made for both. 

Here, we take a look at some of the major talking points to have come out of the series. 

1. Dale Steyn is back 

For the first time in a long time, we can safely say that Dale Steyn is back to his destructive best. He is fit, firing and bowling fast. Steyn got through 27 overs in the series and picked up 7 wickets at just 13.42 with an economy rate of 3.48. Those are some seriously encouraging numbers and with Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi also in the wickets, the Proteas boast a pace attack that is up there with the most dangerous in the world. 

2. No closer to solving No 7 conundrum 

Andile Phehlukwayo played the 1st ODI and Dwaine Pretorius the last two, but the Proteas are no closer to knowing who their best option is at No 7. Both of the abovementioned players are more than capable with the ball, but with a long tail the South Africans will be hoping for a No 7 who can but for long periods if needed. Chris Morris was on tour but did not get a game, while Vernon Philander is expected to feature against Pakistan and is another option. 

3. Markram edges ahead of Hendricks 

It's harsh, but Reeza Hendricks will probably fall out of the starting XI when Amla returns. Skipper Faf du Plessis said at the start of the series that Hendricks and Aiden Markram were in a "straight shootout" for the World Cup No 3 berth. Markram, for now, looks a better bet. He averaged just 29 in the series to Hendricks' 22.66, but Markram looks in phenomenal touch and a big score is surely just around the corner. Heinrich Klaasen, meanwhile, might be in danger when Duminy returns. 

4. Miller makes his case with massive knock

David Miller has effectively booked his ticket to the World Cup in this series. His partnership with Faf du Plessis on Sunday was a stark reminder of his capabilities. When he is in, there is no score that the Proteas can't chase down. The big test for Miller, though, has always been consistency and he must kick on in the coming weeks and months to ensure that he is at his best when the World Cup comes around. 

*The first ODI against Pakistan takes place on January 19. 

Read more on:    proteas  |  dale steyn  |  david miller  |  cricket


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