SA vs. ENG: 1st T20I – My Playing XI

With South Africa’s T20I series against England starting this week, I gave some thought on who I’d like to see picked for the first game.

As previously stated, I am a firm believer that KG Rabada should be rested for this T20I series. His workload needs to be managed, and given that the World Cup Super League is in effect, South Africa need to make sure key players are available for that. Which means, a rested Rabada, who is rearing to go.

It’s very pleasing that the selectors have finally given Keshav Maharaj a shot in the limited overs game, and I believe he has a lot to offer. But for the first game, I really would like to see George Linde as the spinner. He bowls well, and intelligently and keeps things tight. He is also incredibly useful with the bat. Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi and Bjorn Fortuin can be used throughout the summer as there will be plenty of opportunities to do so.

Even though Janneman Malan hasn’t had the best of starts to the four-day series, I still think he is a good opening partner for Quinton de Kock. They work well together, had a very successful partnership in last year’s MSL and complement each other well. T20I cricket is also a good format for Janneman Malan to find some form again.

I would then have Faf du Plessis at number 3, for the experience he brings to the table. He’s a good player of both pace and spin and as the former captain, he’s able to provide support to the new captain, de Kock. Reeza Hendricks is a solid T20 cricketer so I would have him coming in next. His ability to strike the ball far, and nudge it around for the ones and twos will be invaluable in rotating the strike – something the Proteas struggle with at times.

The time has come to move on from David Miller, he has had more than enough opportunities to cement his place in the side, and has failed to do so. Therefore, the Proteas need to look to the future. To that end, Heinrich Klaasen and Kyle Verreynne add some depth and stability to the middle/lower order. They are both attacking cricketers and not afraid of a fight or having to dig themselves out of a tough situation. We have seen that against Australia earlier this year, and also most recently, Verreynne’s performances with the bat, in the four-day series for the Six Gun Grill Cape Cobras has been nothing short of brilliant.

My chosen all-rounder for the first T20I is Andile Phehlukwayo, who despite having lost some spark in his batting in recent times, is still very handy with the ball. He has good variation, and has the ability to bowl at the death which is important.

Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi make up the pace attack, along with Glenton Stuurman, who I hope to see making his maiden international debut. I believe these three will be able to execute game plans incredibly well. The extra pace of Nortje and Stuurman and the ability to bowl the perfect straight yorker, which I hope to see a lot of, should limit the power of England’s attacking batting lineup.

Provided all players chosen are fit and healthy, and aren’t any of the four players currently in isolation due to Covid-19, this is my playing XI:

Keep in mind, this is my playing XI for the first T20I only, not the entire series. Players like Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen will have plenty of opportunities to play in the rest of the series, as players gets rotated. This is a nice time to give other young players a chance.

Catch all the action of the first T20I on Friday evening, at 6pm, with the toss at 5:30pm.


SA vs. ENG – T20I Preview

It’s been a very long time since South Africa have played international cricket, but after long last, the wait is over.

South Africa face off against England for a limited overs series over November and December, starting with a 3-match T20I series in Cape Town.

As it stands, two Proteas players have tested positive for Covid-19, with four players in isolation. As a result, South Africa’s intra-squad warm-up match scheduled for Saturday 21st November has been cancelled and we wait for news on a third Covid test, due to be completed later this week, before the series begins on Friday.

England meanwhile have returned all negative tests and will be playing their own intra-squad training match at Newlands on Sunday.

For now, the series is still going ahead and we, fingers crossed, will see the players take the field on Friday evening at the iconic and beautiful Newlands cricket ground for the first T20I.

England are a tough team to beat in the shorter format, with their explosive and long batting line up, and strong bowling attack. They currently have the no.1 ranked T20I batsman in their squad, in Dawid Malan, and with aggressive players like Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes, they are a tough team to bowl to.

Chris Jordan is just 3 wickets away from overtaking Stuart Broad as England’s leading T20I wicket-taker and after a rocky start to his IPL campaign, he ended the tournament finding his feet. However, despite Jordan’s T20 bowling prowess, England boast a strong bowling line-up, with Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Sam Curran, who proved just how useful he is in the IPL for Chennai Super Kings, being one of the few bright sparks in an otherwise disappointing campaign for CSK.

With the T20 World Cup next year, South Africa would like to improve their record in the format, having lost their last two series against England and Australia earlier this year.

With some young and exciting players included in South Africa’s squad though, there is hope and potential for improved performances. Kyle Verreynne is one that has a bright future ahead of him and is in good form in domestic cricket, albeit in the longer format. His aggressive style of play and never say die attitude are things we’ve seen in his short international career thus far.

With the next T20 World Cup in India, it is very encouraging to see that South Africa have a number of quality spinners (Keshav Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi, George Linde & Bjorn Fortuin) in their squad. It would be ideal to see each of these players feature at least once in this short limited overs series.

Player workloads should be managed, and as such, Kagiso Rabada should be rested for the T20I series, given that South Africa have a long and grueling summer of international cricket ahead. While Rabada has been leading the bowling attack over the past few years, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje have now played enough international cricket to take this lead in Rabada’s absence, and should be given the chance to do so.

This highly anticipated series is sure to be an exciting and exhilarating one to watch, and begins on Friday 27th November, at 6pm SA time.


IPL 2020 – Week 5

IPL was heating up this week as teams make a push to the play-offs.

Chris Morris has been an exceptional addition to Royal Challengers Bangalore, who have looked a completely different team since his arrival. He not only is bowling well, and taking wickets, but has an extraordinary economy rate of only 5.

Considering when Morris bowls, at the beginning of the innings in the Powerplay, and at the death, when teams are looking to go big, that is simply remarkable.

As a result of a number of factors, including Morris, RCB have been having one of their best seasons yet, and by the end of week 5, they sit at 3rd place.

Chennai Super Kings, conversely are having their worst season, having lost 8 of their 11 games. An injured Bravo, and pitches becoming slower and more spin friendly, meant CSK were finally left with no choice but to play Imran Tahir. But it was too little, too late.

Shikhar Dhawan made history this week as he became the first player in IPL history to hit back-to-back centuries, first against CSK and then KXIP. In the process, he became the fifth player to 5000 IPL runs, after Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and David Warner.

KG Rabada continued to shine this week, as he became the fastest to 50 IPL wickets, beating the second best, Sunil Narine by 5 matches. He has now taken at least one wicket in 24 consecutive IPL games.

KXIP seem to have turned a corner this week. After finally wining only their second game of the tournament in week 4, against RCB, they pulled off a remarkable victory in one of the most insane cricket games ever.

As if one super over isn’t nerve-wracking enough already, MI and KXIP put us through two super overs in one game. It was the first time ever in IPL history that two super overs had to decide the match. For KXIP, a team that just a week before had forgotten how to win games, they certainly seem to have remembered that now.

They have now beaten the top 3 teams in a row, which included a comfortable win against Delhi Capitals.

KL Rahul has been spectacularly consistent, scoring his 3rd consecutive half-century of the tournament, and fifth overall. Sitting with 540 runs, the orange cap is firmly his.

For all the firepower Rajasthan Royals have in their team, with Buttler, Stokes, Steve Smith, Samson and Rahul Tewatia, they have struggled a great deal in this edition, winning only 4 of their 11 games. They had a mixed bag this week, losing to both RCB and Sunrisers Hyderabad but beating CSK.

Ben Stokes’ lack of form is a cause of concern for Steve Smith. He has the lowest strike rate of all batsmen who have faced 100+ balls this season, 106.79. A player of Stokes’ ability is never easy to leave out, but you can’t play him based on reputation. If he isn’t delivering, he has to go.

Mumbai Indians have been one of the standout teams in IPL 2020, and have consistently performed throughout the tournament. One of their best performances came late in the week against CSK, with a truly all-round game, with both bat and ball.

Trent Boult achieved his best IPL bowling performance with 4-18, and CSK suffered their first 10-wicket loss in IPL history. As a result, CSK are all but eliminated.

Who will make the play-offs? Will this year finally be RCB’s?

It’s all very exciting as we wind down IPL 2020.

 


 

IPL 2020 – Week 3

We are now just under half way through IPL 2020, and we’ve witnessed some incredible games.

Delhi Capitals have continued to excel in this tournament, with 5 wins from 6 games, and once again look the most complete team.

What has been so enjoyable about their game is their all-round team performances. Young and dynamic Indian batsmen, captained well by Sheryas Iyer, the exciting lower order batting from Marcus Stoinis and Shimron Hetmyer, and then, the South African bowling duo of Anrich Nortje and KG Rabada.

Rabada has now taken 15 wickets in this edition of the IPL, at the phenomenal average of 12.33, and t’s only the third week, and he finishes yet another week as the purple cap holder. Nortje in his first IPL is proving that he is learning day by day, game by game. His bowling has been fast, and more importantly, on point. This week alone, he picked up the prized wickets of Ab de Villiers and Steve Smith in both DC’s games. The Rabada/Nortje pair is a real asset to Delhi.

CSK continue to have problems, with their fourth loss in six games. Their middle order continues to disappoint. Slow batting, lack of rotation of the strike, not enough boundaries, they are evidently missing the experience of Suresh Raina in their middle order. They are known for sticking with a playing XI, but with the losses piling up, it might be time for CSK to make some changes.

The one bright spark for them however is the returned form of Shane Watson, who scored back-to-back half centuries this week. However, Imran Tahir is yet to feature.

Having won only one of their six games, KXIP will be concerned. They have consistently had captain, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal scoring runs at the top and getting their team off to a good start, as evidenced by the fact they are in the top 3 run-scorers of the tournament. But they did not have a good week, losing to CSK by 10 wickets as Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis demolished them, and then losing to Sunrisers a few days later, and at one point, KXIP had gone 219 deliveries without taking a wicket. You can’t win games if you don’t wickets and that is something KXIP are finding out very fast.

We’ve been treated to some exceptional games at Sharjah, one of the three venues in this IPL. With the short boundaries and big hitting players, no score seemed big enough. Teams were successfully chasing down scores in excess of 200, but in week three, with the use of a different, and slower pitch, this was changing. Players must understand they can’t just slog their way to a big score, they must respect the bowler and respect the pitch.

Sunrisers Hyderabad have had a mixed bag this week, losing one and winning one. Jonny Bairstow came just 3 runs short of the third century of the tournament with his 97 off 55 against KXIP. One area where they are shining is with Rashid Khan, who has been nothing short of exemplary. He has an incredible economy of 4.83, and he’s picked up 8 wickets at 14.5. He’s such an intelligent bowler, teams find it difficult to get away when he’s bowling and that has been a tremendous asset to SRH.

Rajasthan Royals will be concerned that after three weeks, they have won only two games. Losing three wickets in the Powerplay is a problem and that is something Rajasthan have done twice this week. It’s very difficult to come back from this position. That’s something Rajasthan will need to correct before their next game.

To be an RCB fan is no easy feat. An impressive performance one day is met with a mediocre one the next. While things are not dire at present, they know they will need to get back on track and start winning games more regularly if this is going to be their year to win the title. Virat Kohli, after being unable to buy a run in the first week, has rediscovered his form with scores of 72* & 43.

Mumbai Indians had a good week, winning both their games, and at present are the only ones to challenge Delhi at the top. Quinton de Kock needed to score big this week to keep his place in the side, and he delivered with his first fifty of the tournament, coming off 32 balls against Sunrisers.

For a week of IPL cricket, it was refreshing that there was no drama or controversy. Just a lot of very good cricket being played.

Long may that continue.


IPL 2020 – Week 1

After a long delay, IPL 2020 finally got underway at the end of September, and we’ve now completed the first week.

In typical IPL fashion, it’s been an entertaining week as we’ve had a super over, a major batting collapse and the first century, courtesy of a masterclass innings from KXIP captain, KL Rahul.

This innings would have meant a lot to Rahul, who before the tournament began, was worried about how he would come back after the Covid-enforced lockdown. Having watched this innings, he has nothing to worry about, as he was simply remarkable, leading from the front and carrying his bat to end with the highest score by an Indian in the IPL, 132* off 69.

What can we say about RCB though? Good one game, very poor the next. Captain Virat Kohli is not having the best start to the tournament, registering scores of 14 & 1. He’s also been disappointing in the field, dropping catches that you’d expect a player of his caliber to take.

RCB need to make changes to their playing XI for their third game. My opinion is they need to drop opening bowling duo Dale Steyn and Umesh Yadav, who have been incredibly expensive in the opening two games, and bring in death bowling specialists/all-rounders Chris Morris and Sri Lanka’s Isuru Udana.

Defending champions Mumbai Indians have won one and lost one, and new Proteas limited overs captain, Quinton de Kock is yet to fully show us what he’s capable of, with scores of 33 & 1. What QDK needs to learn is not giving away a good start. Far too often, he squanders a good position and gives his wickets away. He needs to learn to capitalize on a good start.

CSK have some decisions to make ahead of the second week. Having played the most times in the first week, a total of three games, they have only won one, the opening game, which ended their five-match losing streak to Mumbai Indians.

The problem CSK have is in both departments of batting and bowling. Not having enough intent, or steam in their batting, as captain, MS Dhoni pus it, and having weak links in their bowling.

Faf du Plessis has been faftastic, with scores of 58, 72 and 43, and as such, at the end of week 1, he holds the orange cap for his 173 runs at a striking average of 86.50. He has been the rock of the team, and it is therefore absurd that he receives criticism for batting too slowly, as some commentators called it. A change at the top of the order needs to be made.

To make matters worse for MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja became the first spinner to concede over 40 runs in three consecutive IPL games. It is about time Imran Tahir is included in the playing XI. He’s too good a bowler in this format to leave out.

The question of including Tahir means an overseas player misses out. My vote goes for Shane Watson. For all his promise and potential, he is simply not delivering with scores of 4, 33 & 14. If KXIP can leave out the Universe Boss, surely CSK can leave out Watson.

Delhi Capitals have looked the strongest, and most complete team so far, and as a result they top the tables after the first week. One contributing factor to their success has been Kagiso Rabada, who has been spectacular in the IPL thus far, and this is illustrated by the fact he holds the purple cap at the end of the first week, with 5 wickets at an outstanding average of only 10.80, and remember he bowled another brilliant Super Over.

All of us Proteas fans have for so long, been calling for Rabada to be given a break, an honest to goodness long and well-deserved rest. The silver lining to the forced break, is that a player like Rabada, has been given the chance to get exactly this, a well-deserved rest.

While some players have been excelling straight off the bat, like Faf, others like Dale Steyn have yet to find their mark. With six more weeks to go, this can certainly change because as we all know, in the cricket world, one day you’re on top, and the next, you’re not.

 


 

ENG vs. PAK – 2nd Test Preview

After dominating in the first three days of the first Test, Pakistan will be disappointed that they are heading into the second Test, 1-0 down.

Despite captain, Azhar Ali saying otherwise, their second innings batting was a problem. Having a more than useful 107 run first innings lead, they should have batted England out of the game, but instead squandered their good position.

Experienced players like Azhar Ali (79 Tests) and Asad Shafiq (75 Tests) made no valuable contributions in the first Test, scoring a combined 54 runs in the Test. Simply not good enough. Pakistan’s middle order is their batting strength, and if this fails, so too will Pakistan.

Azhar Ali’s performance as captain was of concern too. His tactics left a lot to be desired in the field, especially when the pressure was on in England’s second innings. Odd field placements, not utilizing bowlers correctly and a lack of a killer instinct were all disappointing. With just a few days between Tests, how Azhar rallies his players will be important.

England however showed their depth in quality players. Even though captain Joe Root and Ben Stokes had been dismissed, Chris Woakes and struggling Jos Buttler proved they had the big match temperament to get England over the line.

What is key to England’s success of late is their never say die attitude. This is something other teams could learn.

Ben Stokes announced that he will not be available for the remainder of the Test summer, having to fly home to New Zealand for family reasons. While he will be missed by the England team, they will be delighted by the fact they have won their last two Tests without much contribution from him.

What changes could both teams make ahead of the second Test? For England, Stokes’ absence opens up the door for a specialist batsman. With Jos Buttler’s new-found batting form will England consider playing him as that specialist batsman, and perhaps bring in Ben Foakes as the wicket-keeper? Or will Zack Crawley, who many feel has been unfortunate to miss out on the previous two Tests earn a call-up?

Jofra Archer has struggled with his pace and consistency at times, and England are wary of over bowling him, they could therefore opt for an out and out quick in Mark Wood instead.

For Pakistan, I would be surprised if they changed their bowling attack, given the fact that Naseem Shah (17 years old) and Shaheen Afridi (20 years old) are both very young and should be able to get through back-to-back Tests without too much difficulty.

In terms of their batting, Pakistan should keep the faith in the players they have selected and trust that they will put in a better performance this time around.

If a second spinner is not necessary in the second Test, Pakistan could consider replacing Shadab Khan for Sohail Khan, who did impress in the warm-ups. Shadab is a very handy lower order batsman however, and scored some important runs in the first Test.

Both teams will be thankful that the first Test finished in four days, as there is not much time between Tests, so an extra rest day would have been welcomed.

A bit of rain is forecast in Southampton during the second Test, which will be a huge disappointment. But for now, we are all looking forward to another epic encounter between these very good sides.

The second Test kicks off on Thursday, 13th August, at 12pm SA time.

 


 

T20 World Cup – Should it be postponed?

It’s another week and another Cricket tour has been postponed because of the Coronavirus.

South Africa’s limited overs tour to Sri Lanka, which was scheduled for early June this year, and consisted of three ODIs and three T20Is, has been postponed for a later date.

This is increasingly worrying for the T20 World Cup, which is still scheduled for October this year, in Australia.

At this very moment, I am wondering that should the T20 World Cup still take place in October, would that be the correct decision?

Given the fact that so many tours, especially those consisting of important limited overs games are being postponed, would it be fair to ask teams to put forward a World Cup playing squad when they have had very little to no chance to see players in action, and formulate game plans based on player performances?

The players themselves would also have had very little opportunity to get game time and hone their skills, especially after such a prolonged break from the game. To their credit, players are doing well to keep fit and train at home, but there is no substitute for actual game time.

If Cricket doesn’t return until the beginning of October for instance, according to the Future Tour Programme, India would still have eight T20Is (including the Asia Cup) before the start of the T20 World Cup to use as preparation. Not ideal but better than most.

Australia and New Zealand would have six T20Is, Pakistan would have five, Bangladesh would have four, whereas England and South Africa would only have three T20Is to use as preparation.

After such a prolonged hiatus from the game, are a handful of rushed games adequate preparation?

As much as it pains me to say this, I feel the T20 World Cup should therefore be postponed until next year, so first and foremost, the Coronavirus can be stopped, and secondly, so all teams have the opportunity for a decent preparation period, one that will allow them to feel ready ahead of an important ICC tournament.

 


 

No crowd attendance for Cricket?

The Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in some talk around India’s tour of Australia later this year, consisting of four Tests, three ODIs and three T20Is being played in front of empty stands.

Given how inspirational it can be to have your fans behind you at a turning point of a game, how much could this affect the matches?

Think back to Headingly 2019, when Ben Stokes single-handedly took the game away from Australia, or when Joe Root was riling up the strong English contingent at Newlands earlier this year. Without the crowd support, would either of these games have gone the way they did?

Test Cricket is not only about how good of a player you are, but how well you can deal with other influences, like the crowd.

A player like Steve Smith for example, used the constant boo’s from the crowd to his advantage in the Ashes of 2019. He used the crowd to spur him on. If there had been no crowd, would he have had as much motivation?

One of the best things about watching Test Cricket is the crowd. Seeing a packed house, all there for the same reason, because they have a love for the game. A full house brings the vibe, the atmosphere, it brings the game alive.

A crowd is by no means essential to a Cricket game being played however, as we have seen in Pakistan’s “home” Tests in the UAE, where they play with almost zero crowd attendance. Despite a lack of crowd, the cricket is still exemplary.

For a Boxing Day or New Years Test however, I can’t quite imagine an empty ground. Those are Tests full of tradition and history. They deserve to be watched.

Each and every one of us needs to do our part to ensure we stay home during the lockdown, so that this virus does not have a chance to spread. Only then will we get our cricket back.


Building for the Future

When Cricket South Africa announced their national contracts for the 2020/21 season, there were a few notable names missing; Janneman Malan, Zubayr Hamza and Kyle Verreynne.

Janneman and Verreynne showed, with flying colours that international Cricket is not a step too far for them. While Hamza just recently won the Momentum One Day Cup Player of the Season award at the Cobras end of season awards, having scored two centuries and three half-centuries, while taking on the added responsibility of the captaincy.

What was a standout for me from Malan and Verreynne was their ability to not shy away from pressure. Under tough match situations, against a world class bowling attack, they stood up and were counted. Hamza has shown he has skill and maturity in Test Cricket, and given his stats in the Momentum One Day Cup, should be considered for one day selection too. They all need more chances. 

It is well known that South Africa are looking to rebuild their national team, both in the Test and One Day format, after their dismal World Cup performance and some high-profile retirements. They can do this by investing time into their young players, especially as the next World Cup is now less than three years away. 

It is promising that this trio of players have had a taste of international cricket but they need to be regulars in the team, gaining experience and learning how to deal with real-match situations, so that when they are faced with these situations in a big pressure game, like a World Cup semi-final, they are equipped to handle the big pressure moment.

I think back to the India Women’s performance in the Women’s T20 World Cup earlier this year. and in particular Shafali Verma. Despite her extremely young age, she had a phenomenal tournament, all up until the final, where the pressure got the better of her. She will learn from this experience and it will make her a better player. 

It is for this reason that young players in the South African set-up need to be given the chance to grow in the national team. They will make mistakes, but that is how they will grow and learn.

Despite these players not getting national contracts, it is my hope that when Cricket does return, these players are given their chance.

It was encouraging to see Cape Cobras coach, Ashwell Prince selecting such a young squad for the Cobras 2020/21 season. His aim was to select a team for all formats and for the future.

It is important for South Africa to use this time to form a solid core group of players, one that can not only travel to the World Cup in India in February 2023 but importantly, a group of players that can compete.


IND vs. SA – ODI Series Preview

All the way back when this India vs. South Africa series began in October 2019, India were on top of the world, and South Africa were a team in disarray.

Fast forward five months, and India have now suffered a whitewash Test and ODI loss against New Zealand. South Africa on the other hand, are fresh off a whitewash ODI series win against the mighty Australians.

Indian captain, Virat Kohli is in the middle of a rather uncharacteristic dip in form. He has now gone 22 international innings without a century. Is this the reason for India’s troubles? Are they too reliant on one player? Is this the series where he rediscovers his form?

Bhuvneshwar Kumar finally returns for India. After a long string of unfortunate injuries, Kumar is back in the Indian team. He is a classy competitor and his return could benefit Jasprit Bumrah, who has been suffering in white ball cricket of late. In 2020, of the six ODIs Bumrah has played, he has taken only 1 wicket in 56 overs, at a ludicrous average of 287. How well this pair works for India will be key to their bowling success.

Spin is always a threat to a South African batting line up, and with three spinners in India’s squad (Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav), South Africa would be feeling weary. But with their former captain, Faf du Plessis back in the fold, he adds a great amount of experience and stability to their middle order.

An area South Africa should look to score is in those important middle overs. Far too often, they are too comfortable defending and don’t rotate the strike. This is something where Heinrich Klaasen has been exceptional in doing. The way he takes initiative and looks for the quick singles, keeps the scoreboard ticking, keeps the fielders on their toes, that is what is needed.

Lungi Ngidi has become an incredibly skillful death bowler, and it was evident how much the Proteas missed him in that final ODI against Australia. This is an area where South Africa have struggled and if Ngidi is now a genuine death bowler, this is promising.

While we should remain cautious and not get carried away with South Africa’s series win over Australia, we are hopeful that it is the start of something promising. If for nothing else, we are finally seeing players that we have been calling for finally getting their chance in the side, and they have not disappointed.

Janneman Malan and Kyle Verreynne are two of the best, young cricketers in South Africa and they are absolutely integral to the future success of the Proteas. The way they batted against a full strength Australian bowling attack, showing calmness, composure and skill was exceptional. To see them putting in great winning performances in tough situations was incredibly satisfying. They are finally getting reward for their excellent domestic performances, and that is thanks to the new backroom staff of Graeme Smith, Mark Boucher & Jacques Kallis.

Picking a playing XI for the first ODI will be tough. The experience of Faf is required, his ability to play spin, his calmness at the wicket, his natural leading ability. Without the captaincy weighing him down, he can now fully concentrate on his batting, and hopefully for South Africa’s sake, that equates to runs.

The way Klaasen played against Australia, the maturity at the crease he demonstrated, he is now vital in the middle order. Janneman played exceptionally well against Australia, but playing India in India is a whole different story, with Temba Bavuma back, would South Africa opt to open with him or would they put their trust in Janneman. After all, the only way Janneman can improve his performances against spin is by playing against the best spinners. With the next ODI World Cup in India, this may be the perfect time to get Janneman Malan comfortable against spin. George Linde thoroughly impressed in the final Test against India late last year, he has shown incredible promise and deserves his chance in the ODI side.

Given all these names that should be in the team, someone unfortunately has to sit out. I am grateful that I am not a selector.

This will undoubtedly be an incredibly difficult series. But as South Africa are looking ahead to the next World Cup, they should keep in mind what England ODI captain, Eoin Morgan expressed in the recent SA v ENG ODI series. Their aim was to identify potential players. Results were not the priority, the development of players was. This is what South Africa need to focus on now.

FIXTURES:

1st ODI – Thursday 12th March, 10am SA time – Dharamsala

2nd ODI – Sunday 15th March, 10am SA time – Lucknow

3rd ODI – Wednesday 18th March, 10am SA time – Kolkata