It is understood that Proteas coach Rob Walter believes that Gerald Coetzee could potentially be a genuine strike bowler at the Cricket World Cup in the mould of Anrich Nortjé.
Gerald Coetzee is likely to be the surprise inclusion in Rob Walter’s 15-man Proteas World Cup squad, which is set to be announced on Tuesday at Grey College in Bloemfontein.
Coetzee, who has only played two ODIs previously, is set to make the cut for the tournament in India next month.
The 23-year-old fast bowler ripped up the SA20 League last season for the Joburg Super Kings, where he finished among the leading wicket-takers in the competition – and he also impressed in his maiden Test series against the West Indies.
However, Coetzee’s white-ball skills came under scrutiny in the recent T20I series against Australia, where he conceded 10.98 runs per over – but he did produce a brilliant slower ball that earned him his first wicket.
It’s understood that Walter has been impressed with the pace that the young spearhead – who will play his domestic cricket for the Titans this season – has been able to generate and believes he could potentially be a genuine strike bowler at the World Cup in the mould of Anrich Nortjé.
Walter was also on the recent South Africa ‘A’ tour to Sri Lanka, where Coetzee not only claimed a five-wicket haul in the third ‘ODI’ but also showcased his ability with the bat in striking a career-best 77 in the second match.
The Proteas’ 15-man squad will lean heavily on their pace bowlers in India, which is in complete contrast to the 2011 edition on the sub-continent, where Graeme Smith’s team fielded three spinners in their starting XI – with then-ICC World No.1 seam bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe relegated to the bench for the duration of the tournament.
The spin strategy proved to be hugely successful, with the Proteas dismissing all their opponents in their group matches prior to their quarter-final defeat to New Zealand in Dhaka.
Walter was at the 2011 World Cup as the fielding coach, but the conditions are set to be entirely different 12 years later, due to the different time of the year the tournament will be held this time around.
The dew factor is a major consideration, with all the Proteas’ World Cup matches day-night fixtures, which could severely impact the spinners’ control should they bowl second.
Only two specialist spinners, left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi and fit-again left-arm orthodox Keshav Maharaj, are set to be included in the squad, with Aiden Markram’s part-time off-spinners providing back-up.
The fast bowler that is likely to be sacrificed is the experienced Lungi Ngidi.
The big Titans fast bowler has not had much game-time this past 12 months and his rustiness showed during his comeback in the Australian T20I series, where he went wicketless and conceded 13.78 runs per over during the course of the three matches.
There is concern about the fitness of both Sisanda Magala (left knee) and Wayne Parnell (left shoulder), although both will be given time to recover as changes can still be made to the squad up until September 28.
“The World Cup announcement is significant,” Walter said recently.
“Whenever you’re announcing a squad, be it for a series or for a World Cup, there’s always tough calls that have to be made.
“If we’ve got good players missing out, it means our system is strong, it means our group of players are strong.”
Walter is set to stick with his tried-and-trusted batting unit, as both youngsters Tristan Stubbs and Dewald Brevis are set to miss out on the trip to India.
Stubbs and Brevis auditioned in the Australian T20I series and the latter, in particular, struggled to adjust to the pace of international cricket.
Captain Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen, Markram, Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller will form the top-six core batters, with Reeza Hendricks providing the back-up after missing out four years ago.
The Proteas will face Australia in a five-match ODI series starting in Bloemfontein tomorrow as their final preparation ahead of departing for the World Cup.
Likely Proteas World Cup Squad
Temba Bavuma (capt), Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Sisanda Magala, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi, Wayne Parnell, Kagiso Rabada, Rassie van der Dussen.