There are areas that need fixing or refining in the Proteas’ one-day squad; perhaps there even needs to be a rethink about some senior personnel
The list of main contenders for the 2019 Cricket World Cup runs to two: England and India. The latter, even though they lost a three-match One-Day International series in England last year, are probably marginal favourites ahead of the hosts.
Both sides are well along as far as their development in the 50-over format is concerned. They know their personnel and how they want to play, and they’re fairly flexible.
At this point, four months away from the opening match of the competition at The Oval, between South Africa and England, Faf du Plessis’ team are not as polished as India or England. The batting looks worryingly flimsy, they’re still not sure who the best option is at number 7, and they’re having to create flexibility when their Plan A – the use of three fast bowlers and leg-spinner Imran Tahir – is not available to them.
They’re also still yet to settle on a batsman at number 3. There are, despite his century in the first match of the series against Pakistan, still rightly concerns about Hashim Amla’s effectiveness in the 50-over game, while some of the fielding, especially the catching, has been far from stellar in this series.
And yet, South Africa, while experimenting with combinations and personnel and a way to play their one-day cricket, have still managed to win series this season against Zimbabwe and Australia and now against a Pakistan side which, Du Plessis correctly stated, played better cricket in the first four games of the series.
Perhaps therein lies reason for optimism for South African fans who are so desperate for World Cup success.
There are areas that need fixing or refining in the Proteas’ one-day squad; perhaps there even needs to be a rethink about some senior personnel.
However, the side are winning and they do seem to have fallen in brilliantly behind Du Plessis.
There’s still a long way to go to the World Cup and a lot of cricket – in all three formats – still has to be played, but South Africans aren’t wrong if they’re feeling cautiously optimistic at this stage.