South Africa will need to box clever for the remainder of the T20 series against Australia after yesterday’s opener was abandoned without a ball being bowled due to persistent rain at St George’s Park.
Russell Domingo’s team desperately need some match time, and with the forecast for the next match at Kingsmead in Durban on Wednesday also looking particularly bleak, time is running out ahead of the World T20 in Bangladesh that gets under way in less than a fortnight.
Besides wanting to see how the Proteas young guns implement their skill under pressure, there is no doubt Domingo would like to test how his players fit into the various game plans and strategies he and captain Faf du Plessis have worked on for the ICC jamboree.
The T20 brainstrust have brought stability and structure to the batting line-up after previous coach Gary Kirsten’s “floating line-up” that left players confused about their particular roles within the overall line of attack.
It has brought a degree of success as South Africa have won consecutive away series in Sri Lanka and Pakistan in conditions likely to be similar to Bangladesh.
However, there remains room for improvement, especially in the formation of the batting line-up.
The Proteas don’t possess the firepower a team like Australia have in the form of opening duo David Warner and Aaron Finch or defending champions West Indies, who boast the likes of Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith to exploit the first six powerplay overs.
Quinton de Kock has the potential to match them, but to expect those types of blistering starts consistently from a 21-year-old in his first ICC tournament would be grossly unfair. Likewise, Hashim Amla remains a class act in all forms of the game, but he admits that his T20 game is still in its infancy.
South Africa do, though, have the dynamic talents of AB de Villiers and David Miller, which should be the cornerstone of the Proteas’ batting line-up in T20 cricket.
De Villiers has no peer as a batsman in world cricket and, like all previous World T20 champions have proved, there is no point delaying your most prolific batsman’s entry to the crease for too long, especially when there are only 120 balls in the innings to exploit.
The more balls he faces, the more runs he is likely to get, which translates into a better chance of winning the game for his team and that is why De Villiers is best suited to the No3 spot.
Miller has proven in domestic cricket and in the Indian Premier League that he has the ability to single-handedly win T20 matches when handed greater responsibility.
Batting at No4, the left-hander powered the Dolphins to their first domestic title in seven years by topping the run-charts with 383 runs at 47.87 with an amazing strike-rate of 153.20.
His best performance of the series came in the pressurised environment of the semi-final where he blasted an undefeated 93 off just 37 balls, his last 69 runs coming off only 17 deliveries.
This innings included a 34-run over when Titans spinner Roelof van der Merwe was ransacked for five sixes and a four.
It was not as if the Titans were not aware of Miller’s power-hitting abilities, especially as he had blitzed a maiden IPL century earlier in the year for the Kings XI Punjab – again batting in the all-important No4 spot.
“Yeah, it showed in the domestic set-up that when I batted at No4 I had success. I had time, could play myself in and it was nice that I could play a role to help the Dolphins win a trophy.
“But I am willing to bat in any position and will do the best in any situation I find myself in for the national team,” Miller said yesterday.
Miller is a polite young man, and he is unlikely to storm into Domingo’s hotel room and demand a promotion up the order. That decision Domingo and Du Plessis must make on their own.