The Proteas could be forced to field a different captain in the historic ODI against Ireland in Benoni on Sunday with regular skipper AB de Villiers still an injury concern.
De Villiers missed the two-Test series against New Zealand with an elbow problem - while also nursing several other niggles – last month leaving T20 captain Faf du Plessis to lead the Test side to a 1-0 series win. Du Plessis has led the ODI team before and would be the logical choice to spin the coin with Ireland skipper William Porterfield at Willowmore Park should De Villiers be officially ruled out.
It was expected that De Villiers would recover ahead of the Ireland tie in order for the World’s No 1 ODI batsman to get some time in the middle before the much-anticipated five-match series against Australia which gets underway next Friday. The world champion Aussies arrived in South Africa on Wednesday and will also face the Irish in a once-off ODI leading into the series against the Proteas.
“AB will be assessed on Thursday morning where a call will be made on his fitness,” Proteas team manager and doctor Mohammed Moosajee told Independent Media. “If there no symptoms of the injury, he will be further assessed after a team middle practise on Friday.”
De Villiers’s withdrawal would be a big blow to an already trimmed-down Proteas squad. The selectors have opted for only 13 players – the squad for the Australian series has been beefed up to 16 – with senior players like Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir being given one extra week to rest up. There also three potential ODI debutants – batsman Temba Bavuma and all-rounders Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius – set to line-up against the Irish already and there could be a fourth if De Villiers doesn’t take the field on Sunday.
The national selection panel are unlikely to call up Amla as the former Proteas Test captain is in desperate need of some rest after playing in the various T20 leagues around the world during the “off season”. This could therefore open the way for either Titans left-hander Qaasim Adams or Knights captain Theunis de Bruyn to be afforded a maiden Proteas call-up. The duo both impressed on the recent South Africa A tour to Australia and could have considered themselves unlucky not to originally gain Proteas selection.
Adams, 32, often held up a struggling SA ‘A’ batting effort with consistent scoring in the middle-order and ultimately finished the tour with 201 runs from seven matches at an average of 50.25. Meanwhile, De Bruyn (23) found some strong form towards the latter end of the tour after struggling initially to finish the tour with 217 runs at 54.25, courtesy of an undefeated 90 in the final tour match.
Bavuma is expected to slot into the opener’s role alongside the newly-married De Kock leaving a gap in the middle-order. The selectors may though want to utilise all four all-rounders with Chris Morris and Wayne Parnell likely to join Phehlukwayo and Pretorius in the starting line-up. This option could be the start of a new road for the Proteas in limited-overs cricket as they hope to lengthen the batting line-up with bowlers that can also offer something with the bat.
Proteas squad to play Ireland
AB de Villiers (captain)‚ Temba Bavuma‚ Farhaan Behardien‚ Quinton de Kock‚ JP Duminy‚ Faf du Plessis‚ David Miller‚ Chris Morris‚ Wayne Parnell‚ Aaron Phangiso‚ Andile Phehlukwayo‚ Dwaine Pretorius‚ Kagiso Rabada.
Proteas squad to play Australia
AB de Villiers (captain)‚ Kyle Abbott‚ Hashim Amla‚ Farhaan Behardien‚ Quinton de Kock‚ JP Duminy‚ Faf du Plessis‚ Imran Tahir‚ David Miller‚ Chris Morris‚ Wayne Parnell‚ Aaron Phangiso‚ Andile Phehlukwayo‚ Kagiso Rabada‚ Tabraiz Shamsi‚ Dale Steyn.
Sunday, 25: v Ireland‚ Willowmoore Park, 10am
Thursday, 30: v Australia‚ Centurion, 1:30pm
Sunday, 2: v Australia‚ Wanderers, 10am
Wednesday, 5: v Australia‚ Kingsmead, 1:30pm
Sunday, 9: v Australia‚ St George’s Park, 10am
Wednesday, 12: v Australia‚ Newlands, 1:30pm