With a fresh skipper, five uncapped players and Lungi Ngidi tasked with leading the Proteas attack this is shaping up to be an interesting series against the World Champions
OUT with the old and in with the new. That’s the feeling ahead of South Africa’s first ODI post-World Cup 2019 today against reigning world champions England at Newlands.
There is a fresh skipper in Quinton de Kock after the wicket-keeper/batsman permanently replaced Faf du Plessis last month. There are five uncapped players at ODI level and Kagiso Rabada is not here, with Lungi Ngidi tasked with leading the Proteas attack.
But sometimes throwing away everything from the past is not always necessary. For years De Kock formed a hugely-productive opening partnership with Hashim Amla. It was the foundation on which South Africa’s potent ODI batting line-up was built, allowing the likes of Du Plessis, AB de Villiers and David Miller to express themselves later on.
Amla has, of course, saddled up his horse and rode off into the sunset of international cricket. There is an heir apparent, though, in the form of Reeza Hendricks, who was desperately unlucky not to usurp Amla ahead of last year’s World Cup in England already.
Hendricks possesses similar qualities to Amla – not only in technique but temperament too – and a major component of South Africa’s rebuilding phase over the next couple of series will be the success of the new opening partnership.
De Kock certainly believes Hendricks is ready for the task at hand. “We are in a rebuilding stage in the 50-over format,” the Proteas skipper said yesterday.
“We are looking forward to the next World Cup and we are at a stage where we are looking for youngsters to come through, and to give them the best opportunities we can, and hopefully help them grow as cricketers and be great prospects for us in future.
“Reeza and Hash are very similar people – very cool, calm, collected – so it’s going to be pretty much batting like with Hash.
“Anyway Reeza and I have a great understanding. We’ve played a lot of cricket together with each other. I’m sure we will do well together. Reeza reads situations really well and he is very cool-headed. Pressure is not really a worry to him, at least that’s how he makes it seem. And he just really looks good when he bats. We know when Reeza really gets going he plays proper cricket shots and it’s hard to stop him so hopefully, he comes off like that.”
If Hendricks does indeed go well, it will certainly alleviate plenty of pressure on De Kock. The 27-year-old has been transformed from a care-free ‘whipper-snapper’ of not so long ago, into a three-pronged figure of responsibility.
De Kock will captain, keep wicket and open the batting during this England series. All three vital components of any team. Crucially, though, it is all obligations he relishes and is not about to relinquish to anyone despite the presence of back-up wicket-keeper Kyle Verreynne in the squad.
“It [keeping wicket] is the one thing that helps me with my captaincy and my batting. It’s key for me to hang on to the gloves for as long as I can,” De Kock said.
“You guys think it sounds like a lot of work. I’ve been doing it for quite a while now so it becomes second nature. Now with the captaincy, it adds a bit more responsibility to me, which I enjoy. I think I am going to hang on with the keeping and the batting for a while.”
LIKELY TEAMS FOR NEWLANDS
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (wk, capt), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Jon-Jon Smuts, Andile Phehlukwayo, Beuran Hendricks, Lutho Sipamla, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi.
England: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Joe Denly/Tom Banton, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid.
TV: SS2, Sabc3