JOHANNESBURG – Some below par pitches made assessing some of the top order batting tougher than the national selectors would have wanted but Proteas coach Ottis Gibson has still given his full backing to Reeza Hendricks and Aiden Markram to come good for the South African One-Day side.
The surfaces in Kimberley and Bloemfontein where the first two One-Day Internationals against Zimbabwe were played along with an uncharacteristically uneven pitch in Potchefstroom for the second T20 International, tested the batsmen perhaps more than they would have liked.
“It’s early season and you don’t want to be too harsh on groundsmen, but from the players point of view, obviously it’s disappointing, because whilst we are creating opportunities we still need to have decent facilities to play on,” said Gibson.
“In Bloem, some kept low and some bounced which is not what you want when you want to stake a claim for a place in the team.”
Markram scored just 104 runs, with a highest score of 42, while Hendricks had a series aggregate of only 72 - with a top score of 66 - in a series where all the batsmen struggled.
The pair have important roles to play too as Gibson and the selectors seek cover for the top order batting spots, and both will continue to be supported ahead of the tour to Australia next month.
Gibson said yesterday after the third T20 International was rained out in Benoni, that Hashim Amla would not be in the tour party as he is being given extra opportunity to recover from a torn tendon in his left little finger.
That means both Markram and Hendricks will head Down Under, hoping that pitches in Australia will be more conducive to strokeplay.
“We feel like we’ve seen a lot of guys in this series. It has been a good exercise for us, even though we’ve won the games comfortably.”
The likes of Rassie van der Dussen, Dane Paterson and even Robbie Frylinck, have shown they are options that bear further consideration.
Gibson left the door open for the selectors to make a “wild card” choice if one of that trio or anyone else performs outstandingly in domestic cricket in the next few months.
Gibson was most happy with his bowling, albeit they had conditions in their favour. “(Kagiso) Rabada and (Lungi) Ngidi have done very well, (Imran) Tahir has shown why he is our number one spinner.”
“The really exciting thing for me was watching Dale Steyn bowl in Bloem, it was fantastic to see him back to that level and bowling that quickly and with that skill and accuracy,” said Gibson.