Imran Tahir is still at the peak of his powers. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
Imran Tahir is still at the peak of his powers. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

5 key Proteas on Father Time’s radar ahead of T20 World Cup

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Jul 23, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - After months of deliberation, the International Cricket Council (ICC) decided this week that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the T20 World Cup in Australia would be postponed until 2021.

IOL Sport’s take a closer look at the impact it may have on the Proteas, with five veterans’ participation now hanging in the balance.

Imran Tahir (42)

When the leg-spinner retired from 50-overs cricket after last year’s World Cup in England he was still at the peak of his powers, even at 40.

Tahir was the Proteas’ leading bowler in an otherwise dismal campaign and nobody would have begrudged him a final farewell in Australia 18 months down the line this year.

However, with a further 12-month extension now confirmed there has to be concerns that “Father Time” is catching up with him.

Tahir will play in a couple of franchise tournaments this year, pending Covid-19 regulations, and it will be interesting to see how he moves in the field.

The Proteas also have a couple of younger spin prospects such as Tabraiz Shamsi and Bjorn Fortuin knocking on the door.

Dale Steyn (38)

If anyone leaves it up to Steyn, he will definitely be in Australia next year.

The fast bowler still believes he is 21 and takes on the waves and mountains in his spare time like a varsity student.

Steyn also showed in the Mzansi Super League last year that an old dog can indeed learn new tricks by delivering a couple of sensational slower balls.

He will no doubt get his body and mind ready for the challenge, but whether his former teammates now turned Proteas coach Mark Boucher and director of Cricket Graeme Smith will trust their once talisman for a final tilt, is another question.

AB de Villiers (37)

Will he or won’t he?

It’s been a question lingering around South African cricket for the past two years despite De Villiers having retired from international cricket in 2018. The question certainly isn’t “Can he?” for De Villiers showed again last Saturday in the 3TC event at SuperSport Park that he has lost none of the magic. But another year of waiting may just play on his mind and that leaves any possibility open.

Ultimately it will come down to whether he has the desire to place himself in the spotlight again and face all the pressure that comes with trying to bring home a World Cup to South Africa.

Faf du Plessis (37)

Arguably South Africa’s most under-rated white-ball cricketer ever, Du Plessis was hoping to bid the Proteas’ farewell while still at the helm after this year’s T20 World Cup.

Now that both are no longer the case with Quinton de Kock replacing Du Plessis as limited-overs skipper and the tournament postponed, it will be interesting to see whether Du Plessis still has the desire to push on.

He is the only one of the five that remains contracted to Cricket SA, which is, however, a sense of his commitment to the national cause.

Chris Morris (34)

Although still one of the most sought after all-rounders on the global T20 franchise circuit, Morris faces a battle to be on the plane for Australia next year.

He no longer has a CSA contract – or a Titans domestic contract – having committed to the life of a freelancer.

While this should not be held against Morris, it may though be a case of out of sight, out of mind, especially with competition heating up among the all-rounders in the national set-up.

* The number alongside each player’s name is the age they will be at next year’s T20 World Cup.


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