Cape Town - Having already made the tough decision to leave Graeme Smith out of the South African ODI side, the team management may also be poised to do the near-unthinkable and leave Jacques Kallis out of their plans for the 2015 World Cup.
Since his return from a 21-month absence from ODI cricket, Kallis has made just one notable contribution, the half-century he scored in his comeback match against Pakistan at Newlands recently.
If Kallis and Ryan McLaren play, it means South Africa take six frontline seamers into their games, which is clearly overkill. More tellingly, in the last ODI against India at Kingsmead, Kallis was dropped down to number six in the batting order and did not bowl.
The third and final ODI against India takes place at Centurion on Wednesday.
It’s really hard on Kallis, one of South Africa’s greatest cricketers, but it was clear at the Wanderers that Kallis coming in after a great start by Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock does not always keep the momentum of the innings going.
In a World Cup final, though, with South Africa 20/2, Kallis would probably be the first batsman most people would want at the crease.
But instead of continuing to explore where and how Kallis best fits into their plans moving forward, the 38-year-old has been allowed to go home for the moment and concentrate on Test cricket.
McLaren said it best: “I don’t think I should be compared to Jacques, it’s like comparing a CitiGolf to a Rolls Royce. But which one you choose depends on where you are driving!”
South Africa have made it clear that, even though the ODI series has been won - they lead 2-0 - Wednesday’s clash is not being regarded as a dead-rubber fixture.
Having been pipped by Pakistan in the previous ODI series on home soil, South Africa were desperate to improve their home record in bilateral ODI series, and they did so by blowing India away in the first two matches in Johannesburg and Durban.
The series is won, but two Tests lie ahead and the Proteas want to take the momentum of a 3-0 drubbing in the ODIs into those games.
“We want to keep the intensity and energy, as well as aggression, because psychologically we want to make further inroads to take into the Test series,” said McLaren.
Coach Russell Domingo hinted that there would be a couple of changes to the triumphant side, with key players being rested ahead of the Test series that starts at the Wanderers on December 18. Apart from Kallis’ absence, Dale Steyn is likely to be given a break.
“The reason Dale and Morné Morkel have been so good in Tests is because they’ve been fresh every time they’ve played. We have depth in bowling and this an opportunity to play some of the other guys,” Domingo said.
McLaren seemed to have accepted that he will be one of the regular bowlers asked to step up in the absence of their spearhead.
“We’ve got a lot of depth in our bowling and, as a team of late, Dale hasn’t played all of the ODIs. We’re used to performing without him, but, when he plays, we feed off his energy.
“We’ve also adapted to playing without him and that gives other guys a chance to shine,” McLaren said.