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Proteas have one heck of a selection conundrum ahead of T20 World Cup

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The next five weeks will be crucial for the Proteas selectors as to who makes the T20 World Cup squad. Cricket writer Stuart Hess looks at some of the issues.

Captain Temba Bavuma will be part of the Proteas’ top order conversation for the T20 World Cup when he is fit to play again. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – It’s all well and good beating England, but the Proteas have left themselves – well, Victor Mpitsang and his selection panel – with one heck of a conundrum as far as the T20 World Cup is concerned. It’s a good thing there’s still at least five weeks left before Mpitsang and Co have to name a squad for that tournament in Australia.

Cricket writer Stuart Hess looks at some of the issues.

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TOP ORDER

Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen, Rilee Rossouw, Janneman Malan, heck Dwaine Pretorius batted at No 3 in India. Good luck sorting all of that out.

Realistically four out of the first five mentioned will most likely get picked and with Bavuma, the captain, and De Kock, despite poor returns against England, almost certain to have their tickets for Australia booked, that leaves Hendricks, Van der Dussen and Rossouw for the two other spots.

It may be that the selectors will make a determination based on what happens in the two matches against Ireland this week, and even the three against India in late September, before making a final call. Whatever they do, some people are going to be upset.

MIDDLE ORDER

Boy are there options here and that really must please Mpitsang because at times South Africa has looked a batter light and David Miller, despite his magnificent form in the last 18 months, has carried a heavy load as ‘finisher’.

First to Aiden Markram, who showed in that third match how adaptable he is in terms building his innings through a tricky period around two rain breaks and then came up with some funky shot-making – a reverse flick over the vacant slip region and then a crafty pick-up from a metre outside off-stump over backward square leg off Reece Topley.

Tristan Stubbs has been a revelation, and the prospect of him and Miller batting in tandem to finish an innings is mouthwatering.

SEAM BOWLING ALL-ROUNDERS

Can Andile Phehlukwayo bowl like he did in England for the rest of the year please?

Consistency is the missing element in his game with both bat and ball – although the former is a little harder because his opportunities are so limited. What the England series did was provide him with a standard below which he is no longer allowed to drop. He can and must improve ahead of the World Cup.

Pretorius remains an important player, who can adapt to different roles with the bat, and as we saw at the World Cup last year, is an excellent ‘death’ bowler.

BOWLING

There is wonderful variety in this department for the Proteas. Just look at the PowerPlay on Sunday; Keshav Maharaj bowled the first over, then came rockets from Anrich Nortje and craftiness from Lungi Ngidi (low key, SA’s Player of the Series). It meant the English couldn’t settle into any rhythm, and the match was essentially won by the end of the sixth over.

Tabraiz Shamsi reminded everyone that he’s still a fine limited overs bowler – now SA’s leading wicket taker in the shortest format.

Kagiso Rabada didn’t play the last game, and there’s still Gerald Coetzee and Wayne Parnell, who may get a run against Ireland, to show what they can do.

FIELDING

A critical area of the game in the shortest format. South Africa was dreadful in the first match and then delivered one of the performances of the year in Southampton. Fielding coach, Justin Ontong, will be driving home the point that the third match is the benchmark for the rest of the year.

The catching in the last two games was magnificent – Maharaj and Ngidi in Cardiff and of course Stubbs and Nortje on Sunday. The ground fielding in the last match was suffocating and made for really good viewing.

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