Home Sport Cricket This Proteas team can actually go all the way at T20 World...

This Proteas team can actually go all the way at T20 World Cup

355

There is youth in the shape of Tristan Stubbs, plenty of older heads like Parnell and David Miller, with sound leadership from Temba Bavuma, Miller, Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada and Keshav Maharaj, writes Stuart Hess.

The Proteas, given the squad that has been named can actually go all the way and win the T20 World Cup. File Picture: AFP

Johannesburg – What? The national selectors actually managed to pick a Proteas World Cup squad that everyone agrees with?

Huh? Has that ever happened? There has been almost universal approval for the 15 players and three reserves convener of selectors Victor Mpitsang named on Tuesday.

Even Wayne Parnell didn’t elicit any squawking. Have South Africans grown up? Are the selectors doing a good job? Or is everyone simply bored and looking forward to the SA20?

Mpitsang and his panel put together an excellent squad – one that is balanced, has options, depth, experience, variety and explosiveness.

There is youth in the shape of Tristan Stubbs, plenty of older heads like Parnell and David Miller, with sound leadership from Temba Bavuma, Miller, Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada and Keshav Maharaj.

It is a squad that should win the T20 World Cup in Australia.

And before the whole “we’ve been here before” brigade pipes up, it’s worth noting this is a squad that’s taken many months to build.

It’s been through the experimental stage – remember the home-and-away series against Pakistan last year – and it knows the pain of defeat after coming up just short of qualifying for a semi-final berth in last year’s T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

The selectors importantly learned from that too, and Mpitsang provided useful insight about the need to pick players for specific roles this time – unlike last year, when some were asked to fill in and adapt to positions for which they weren’t naturally suited.

SA can go to the World Cup feeling genuinely good about themselves and their chances.

This was a team that thrived in Bavuma’s absence against England and without De Kock scoring many runs. In fact, a player who replaced Bavuma in that England series, Reeza Hendricks, has created the biggest headache for the selectors, one they will have to confront at the tournament itself.

But before then, Bavuma will have the chance to get form and confidence back against India later this month.

Mpitsang didn’t want to answer the question as to whether he could envisage dropping Bavuma during the World Cup, but if Hendricks and Rilee Rossouw continue with the form they showed in England, it is a question he and the selection panel will have to answer.

Unlike other times at previous editions, this isn’t a team that will have to wait long to scratch SA’s World Cup itch.

Thanks to the ICC now being fully installed as an events company, there are limited-overs tournaments every year between now and 2031.

So, there are plenty of opportunities to get over the “hump” and no need to burden themselves with too much pressure about waiting too long to get another chance.

However, 2022 and the group named on Tuesday is one of the best World Cup squads named for many a year.

There is a strong argument it’s as good as the side named for the 1999 ODI World Cup, which came up agonisingly short in Birmingham.

There’s a real reason for SA fans to be optimistic, and not to be shy about that optimism.

Squad: Temba Bavuma (captain), Quinton de Kock, Heinrich Klaasen, Reeza Hendricks, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Wayne Parnell, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Rillee Rossouw, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs.

@shockerhess

Previous articleRugby World Cup Sevens – This one is special!
Next articleLifting of cattle ban welcomed