Wednesday, 22 January, 2020

Proteas T20 World Cup Talk by Daniel Orsmond

Proteas T20 World Cup Talk by Daniel Orsmond

With the Pro 20 World Cup year fast approaching, the national selectors will slowly be forming what they believe could be a trophy lifting squad of 15. I thought that this would be a good time to start developing my own squad, taking into account players’ careers as a whole, their recent form, or even just their potential.

As mentioned in a previous article of mine, the best structure for a T20 team, in my opinion, is 5 specialist batsmen, 2 all-rounders, and 4 specialist bowlers.

To begin forming our ‘world cup winning’ squad, let’s start with a wide base of players to highlight the depth of quality and then look to work our way down to a batch of 15 players that will be on the flight to Australia.

Potential Selections:

Batsmen Batting All-Rounders Bowling All-Rounders Bowlers
Quinton de Kock Jon-Jon Smuts Andile Phehlukwayo Kagiso Rabada
Reeza Hendricks Wiaan Mulder Dwaine Pretorius Dale Steyn
Janneman Malan Senuran Muthusamy Chris Morris Lungi Ngidi
Aiden Markram   George Linde Anrich Nortje
Faf du Plessis     Lutho Sipamla
Themba Bavuma     Gerald Coetzee
Rassie van der Dussen     Imran Tahir
Matthew Breetzke     Bjorn Fortuin
David Miller     Tabraiz Shamsi
Ryan Rickelton     Keshab Maharaj

As you can see, there are a number of potential players who possess the skill, potential, talent, and temperament to make it at the highest level and will undoubtedly all be fighting for those final 15 seats.

In my opinion, South African selectors tend not to like to change and more often than not, would opt for the ‘tried and tested’ option ahead a younger, inexperienced but highly talented and capable option and I believe that it is this tendency that inevitably resulted in the Proteas poor 2019 Cricket World Cup in England. I’d argue that the likes of Amla, Duminy and David Miller had been in poor touch building up to the tournament while a number of local players had undoubtedly proved their worth at a domestic level.

I would like to see these local players included in the squad this time and at the end of the day, I believe that if you are going to select younger, inexperienced players, your T20 squad is the place to do it. These players will get some international exposure which will prove invaluable as they head look to break into the 50 over the side or even the test side.

Batsmen: Pick 7

Looking at the 10 batsmen on offer, we effectively have to drop 3 of those players and I would undoubtedly begin with David Miller. He has played some fantastic knocks throughout his career, but his level of inconsistency is just not acceptable at the highest level, particularly given that he is considered a ‘senior’ player.

My final decision to make is essential to pick 1 player between Markram, Breetzke, and Rickelton. All 3 of these players are incredibly talented and would walk straight into the line-ups of many sides. I believe that the ‘fans choice’ would be the former SA u19 star Matthew Breetzke who applies his trade for the Warriors and the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants. He is an aggressive opener who is perfectly suited to batting in the powerplay given his ability to find the gaps and his tendency to hit over the top. Rickelton, by comparison, is almost a like for like player but hasn’t really managed to crack it during the MSL this season but remains incredibly talented and, in my opinion, will get the national call up within the next 2-3 years. Unfortunately, his time is not right now. Markram is a difficult player to place given his questionable form in recent times. Having said that, it would not be fair to make a comparison between Markram’s test form in India and Breetzke’s domestic cricket form. We’ve all seen what Markram is capable of when he plays domestic cricket and he sticks out like a sore thumb when surrounded by domestic cricketers. On an apple for apple comparison, I believe Markram is the logical choice to either open the batting or to come in at 3 or 4, depending on the selection of Reeza Hendricks and Janneman Malan.

The 7 specialist batsmen I would include in the squad of 15:
  1. Quinton de Kock (c)
  2. Faf du Plessis
  3. Janneman Malan
  4. Reeza Hendricks
  5. Aiden Markram
  6. Themba Bavuma
  7. Rassie van der Dussen
My most likely top 5, as it stands would be:
  1. Quinton de Kock
  2. Aiden Markram
  3. Reeza Hendricks
  4. Faf du Plessis
  5. Rassie van der Dussen

With Themba Bavuma and Janneman Malan the traveling reserves.

All-Rounders: Pick 3

With 7 prominent all-rounders in the South African set-up, who have all earned themselves international call-ups, it is a tough decision to exclude 2 of them, but I believe that the best way forward is to play with 1 batting all-rounder (who will bat at 6) and 1 bowling all-rounder (who will bat at 7).

Starting with the batting all-rounder position, the obvious selection, in my opinion, is between Mulder and Smuts, with Muthusamy more likely to feature in the longer format of the game. Now, concerning Mulder, I think that he is a fantastic cricketer but his lack of game time at the moment is something that will definitely count against him and his inability to contribute with substantial, match-winning type innings for the Lions has lead me to leave him out for the more experienced Jon-Jon Smuts who had a great Ram Slam T20 as season and has continued that form into the MSL where he had led from the front with both bat and ball.

Moving on to the bowling all-rounders where there is considerably more competition, it is almost an impossible task to leave 2 players out. I thought about it objectively and what I decided is that if Andile Phehlukwayo couldn’t bat, I would probably still consider him to fill one of the bowling positions given his ability to restrict runs in the middle overs with subtle changes of pace and cutters.

Chris Morris has been described by many as an ‘X-Factor’ type player but in my opinion, he has never been consistent enough with bat or ball to be considered as an international all-rounder. I think he possesses a mountain of talent and has a fantastic set of skills as a bowler, but I believe he will become undone against better opposition and my analysis, unfortunately, holds true for George Linde at this current point in time. Furthermore, given the inclusion of Smuts and the ever so capable Imran Tahir, there isn’t room for a 3rd spinner in my squad.

Dwaine Pretorius has proved his ability with bat and ball and is similar to Andile in his ability to change the pace of the delivery if the context of the game requires it.

The 3 All-rounders I would include in the squad of 15 are:
  1. Jon-Jon Smuts
  2. Andile Phehlukwayo
  3. Dwaine Pretorius
My top 7 would look as follows:
  1. Quinton de Kock.
  2. Reeza Hendricks
  3. Aiden Markram
  4. Faf du Plessis
  5. Rassie van der Dussen
  6. Jon-Jon Smuts
  7. Andile Phehlukwayo,

This would imply that Themba Bavuma, Janneman Malan, and Dwaine Pretorius would sit out.

Proteas T20 World Cup Talk by Daniel Orsmond
Proteas T20 World Cup Talk by Daniel Orsmond © CSA/Twitter

Bowlers: Pick 5

3 bowlers make my side every day of the week when it comes to white-ball cricket in South Africa, and that is Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, and Imran Tahir. I will accept no debate on those 3 selections. Moving forward, however, we must pick, in my opinion, another seamer between Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Lutho Sipamla, and Gerald Coetzee. Right off the bat, I think it’s safe to exclude the 19-year-old Coetzee who has had an incredible 4-day season thus far and had been more than useful in the MSL for the Jozi Stars, but I wouldn’t want his first taste of international cricket to be in a World Cup. Having said that, I would love to see him get some game time in the preceding T20 series.

Personally, it’s a toss-up for me between Nortje and Ngidi. I believe if both players perform at their very best, Nortje is the ideal candidate for the T20 role given his extra yard or two of pace over Ngidi who, if we’re honest with ourselves, has not been in the greatest of form since his return from injury. I think that Nortje has a lot of raw and natural pace but needs a good mentor like Donald, Pollock or Steyn just to help him fine-tune those skills and to develop a plan of action against top opposition.

Regarding the last bowling selection that needs to be made, I believe that Maharaj should be left as the red ball specialist going forward, ultimately leaving Fortuin and Shamsi to fill the 2nd specialist spinners role alongside Tahir. Shamsi has the advantage of a wider variety of deliveries compared to Fortuin and has the additional advantage of some international experience. Fortuin, however, seems to be an incredibly intelligent bowler who although lacks genuine variety, has developed the ability to change his pace or at a time using the wide of the popping crease to change his angle of delivery. He too appears to have been forced to take the new ball in the MSL thus far, which for any bowler, let alone an orthodox finger spinner, is a very tough ask. He has taken the challenge head-on and yielded some impressive results for the Paarl Rocks and would, therefore, be my 2nd option at the Pro 20 World Cup.

My 5 specialist bowlers in the squad of 15 would be:
  1. Kagiso Rabada
  2. Dale Steyn
  3. Imran Tahir
  4. Anrich Nortje
  5. Bjorn Fortuin
The 4 Specialist bowlers I would include in my playing 11 would be:
  1. Kagiso Rabada
  2. Dale Steyn
  3. Anrich Nortje
  4. Imran Tahir

My Final Squad of 15:

  1. Quinton de Kock (c)
  2. Faf du Plessis
  3. Janneman Malan
  4. Reeza Hendricks
  5. Aiden Markram
  6. Themba Bavuma
  7. Rassie van der Dussen
  8. Jon-Jon Smuts
  9. Andile Phehlukwayo
  10. Dwaine Pretorius
  11. Kagiso Rabada
  12. Dale Steyn
  13. Imran Tahir
  14. Anrich Nortje
  15. Bjorn Fortuin

My Best XI:

  1. Quinton de Kock
  2. Reeza Hendricks
  3. Aiden Markram
  4. Faf du Plessis
  5. Rassie van der Dussen
  6. Jon-Jon Smuts
  7. Andile Phehlukwayo
  8. Kagiso Rabada
  9. Dale Steyn
  10. Anrich Nortje
  11. Imran Tahir

My Final Thoughts:

A T20 cricket world cup is a highly unpredictable tournament with arguably more potential winners that I could count on one hand. Having said that, what do I think South Africa’s chances are? If I’m completely honest with myself, I would probably place us behind the likes of India, England, and Australia as it stands.

What has frustrated me over the years is South Africa’s lack of consistency in terms of selection when it comes to the shortest format of the game. To clarify, my issue is not necessarily the players that have been selected, but rather the lack of consistency when it comes to selection. if I look at the T20 fixtures that the Proteas have between today and the World Cup, we have 3 against England, 3 against Australia and 5 against the West Indies. This gives us 11 matches for players to not only understand their roles in the side but also to be exposed to a number of different match situations within those roles. I would take a great deal of confidence if I saw the same crop of 13-15 players used for the 11 T20 matches as opposed to large scale changes made in consecutive matches for the sake of ‘rotation’ or ‘exposure’.

With all that said and done, we have some world-class players and in conditions that I believe South Africa is very accustomed to, I do see the South African side progressing deep into the tournament!

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