Proteas coach Mark Boucher has been saddled with a pleasant selection headache
Australia would have departed South Africa yesterday incredulous about just who had beaten them 3-0 in the One-Day series.
It’s not the fact that it was the Proteas that won – they’ve done so in 11 of the last 12 ODIs between the two teams – rather the players wearing the Proteas outfit. If you’d have told the Australian players a year ago that Kyle Verreynne, Janneman Malan, Heinrich Klaasen and Anrich Nortjé would sweep them in a series, many of them would have scrunched up their faces and gone: “Huh!”
And it’s Verreynne, Klaasen, Nortjé and Malan – the latter added to the squad on Saturday as cover for Temba Bavuma – who will be part of a 16-player party headed to India for three One-Day Internationals looking to continue to build on the confidence gained from thumping Australia at the end of a home international summer, that has had more downs than ups for South African cricket.
“What’s impressed me is that the guys have responded to the messages that we have been sending out from a batting and a bowling perspective,” said Proteas head coach Mark Boucher “They were prepared to change their mindsets a bit and (we) also (had) a lot of different players, stepping up.”
Since the administrative changes at Cricket SA late last year, Boucher and interim Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, have stressed the importance of players taking the opportunities being given to them and in that respect, Klaasen – who’d struggled last year when trying to crack a spot in the World Cup squad, Malan, Nortjé and Verreynne have certainly uitlised the opportunities granted to them.
Boucher has been left with a pleasant selection headache for the Indian series. Bavuma is still struggling with his hamstring strain and is a doubt for Friday’s opening match in Dharamsala. Faf du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen also need to be accommodated.
“Temba owns that spot, and if he can get back in, he gets back in. It’s good to see that Janneman has put his hand up, he’s one of those youngsters who’ve come through and played great cricket and taken his chance.
“I’d love to play 20 guys, but you can’t do that, you must select the best players for the conditions we are playing in and that is what we have to do,” said Boucher.
How to squeeze Du Plessis into a starting team will be another difficult call for Boucher and skipper Quinton de Kock. Such has been the impact of the young players against Australia that it may be deemed unfair to shove Du Plessis back in especially as he’s unlikely to be a part of the team for the 50-over World Cup in India in 2023.
However, Boucher sees a very important role for the former captain. “When you go to India, you need a balance between youth and experience. Faf has done really well for SA in One-Day cricket, he’s got a hundred in his last knock, he knows Indian conditions really well.”
Not only did Du Plessis score a hundred in his last ODI – against Australia at the World Cup last year – but he also did so the last time he faced India, in Durban two years ago, and the last time he batted in an ODI in India – an unbeaten 133 in Mumbai in 2015.
“Just him being in the squad adds a lot of value and experience,” said Boucher.
India wasted no time naming their squad yesterday, leaving out vice-captain Rohit Sharma, who suffered a calf injury during India’s trip to New Zealand.
The Black Caps beat Virat Kohli’s team 3-0 in the ODIs.
Meanwhile, Boucher said the South African players would follow the lead of the England players, who are on tour in Sri Lanka and forego handshakes over concerns about the coronavirus.
The South African team will be accompanied by Cricket SA’s chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra, to keep them informed about the latest developments concerning the virus.
“It is a concern, we will do the same thing (as England). It’s a way of stopping anything happening to our guys, it is a sign of respect for the players around you not to pass on something you may have,” said Boucher.
SOUTH AFRICA: Quinton de Kock (capt), Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, Kyle Verreynne, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Jon-Jon Smuts, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lundi Ngidi, Lutho Sipamla, Beuran Hendricks, Anrich Nortje, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj.
INDIA: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Virat Kohli (capt), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill.
1st ODI – DharamshalaMarch 12
2nd ODI – LucknowMarch 15
3rd ODI – KolkataMarch 18