All-rounder slot a concern for Proteas

ICC Champions Trophy

Durban – The Proteas have enjoyed the past two days at leisure, with the squad handed a short break before they really knuckle down for Saturday’s ICC Champions Trophy opener against Sri Lanka.

Some went golfing in Surrey, while the likes of Keshav Maharaj met up with friends in London. David Miller and Imran Tahir, meanwhile, mixed pleasure with pressure, as the physio kept at them and their hamstrings.

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Kagiso Rabada was the destroyer-in-chief of England at Lords. Picture: APAB de Villiers. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/RetuersWayne Parnell did his chances no harm with his new-ball spell in the series against England. Photo: Andrew Couldridge/ReutersPhoto: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

By Friday, a decision needs to be made on the pair, and the selection panel and skipper AB de Villiers would love to have both in the side on Saturday. There is optimism that both will be fit.

The Proteas’ bowling department looked most threatening when they were on the attack against England, pitching the ball up and looking for it to swing.

Wayne Parnell bowled at good pace, and got late swing, which is a very handy weapon – to left and right-handed batsmen. In tandem with Kagiso Rabada, he asks a different set of questions, and looks a real danger when he keeps the ball up.

AB de Villiers. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Retuers

It is in the all-round department that the Proteas have to make some big calls. They can’t play all four of Parnell, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius. It will have to be two at a time, it seems, and the latter duo didn’t enjoy the success of the past year.

They were confronted by a charging Eoin Morgan and, even worse, Ben Stokes, and their figures suffered. Both missed out at Lord’s, in what looked close to the playing XI that SA may go with at The Oval on Saturday.

Upfront, Hashim Amla has found his touch again, passing 7 000 runs in the process. The fluency is back in his off-side play, and his catching at Lord’s would have been a relief to him and the collective.

Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and De Villiers all have runs under the belt, so there aren’t too many worries in the top four. It is below them that there have been some worries.

Wayne Parnell did his chances no harm with his new-ball spell in the series against England. Photo: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

JP Duminy was discarded after a poor shot at Headingley, but was restored for the final match against England, where he spent some valuable time at the crease.

Miller, if passed fit, is the finisher, and Morris looks to be the man to assist in that regard. Rabada and Tahir pick themselves, and Parnell – still a confidence player – almost has to play after his exploits on Monday.

That leaves room for one more, and it looks like a battle between the experience of Morne Morkel, and the enthusiasm of Phehlukwayo.

The latter has been entrusted with the death overs for most of the past year, so it is unlikely that he will be discarded so swiftly.

Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

Morkel, of course, brings striking ability upfront, and the question that the Proteas will ask themselves is what they desire more.

Crucially, Phehlukwayo is also more comfortable with bat in hand, and is much more versatile around the field.

Those additional factors may just give him the edge.

Likely South African team vs Sri Lanka: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (capt), JP Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir.


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