Mark Boucher feeling confident ahead of ODI series against Pakistan
CAPE TOWN – Proteas coach Mark Boucher admits the national selection panel are sitting with a "nice headache" ahead of the first ODI against Pakistan at Centurion on Friday.
The Proteas have not played any ODI cricket since March last year with their last series being a 3-0 whitewash victory over Australia.
The result was even more impressive as it was achieved without a string of regulars such as Kagiso Rabada, Rassie van der Dussen and Faf du Plessis.
This created opportunities for Boucher and Co. to test the depth of the Proteas squad with fringe players such as Janneman Malan, Heinrich Klaasen and Kyle Verreynne all performing splendidly.
However, Boucher now has a full squad to select from - at least for the first two ODI's before the IPL stars depart for India - and he has welcomed the selection quandary.
"We are quite fortunate to be honest with you. We are sitting in a position where a lot of guys were rested and that particular time. There were one or two injuries as well. But we have a full selection of squad members now, and by right they should come back," Boucher told the media on Thursday.
"We also have to take form into the equation. We will make selections on good sound cricketing reasons. It's nice to have a full strength squad, but in the reverse we may have felt before that we didn't have the depth in our squad, but the guys that we have selected have performed well. So, we're sitting with a nice headache."
A further point of discussion is the return of Aiden Markram to the Proteas ODI squad. Markram has not played any white-ball cricket for the national team since the disastrous 2019 World Cup in the United Kingdom.
However, he has been the form batsman in the domestic 4-Day competition over the last couple of months and Boucher believes that the time is right to get the outrageously talented - but often inconsistent - right-hander back into the limited-overs mix as the Proteas begin their 2023 World Cup preparations in earnest.
"I think his inclusion in the One-Day format is just saying 'Well, you're that good. We do believe that you deserve an opportunity to resurrect your one-day career. Now is the time to give you that opportunity'," Boucher said.
"He is in good form, he has scored a lot of runs. He had a funny sort of start to his ODI career. He made a few runs, was made captain, and whether that was the right call, we don't know... We have given him a very clear direction of how he must go out and play. His job is to go out and score runs and bat the way he has been in our domestic season as well.
"If he can play anyway near that level, then he will only be a good find for us in one-day cricket. He is certainly one of those players that when he is a form, he stands out and we certainly see him a potential match-winner come the 2023 World Cup. We need to get him into the side and this is the first step. Obviously he needs to perform, but thats up to him."
Proteas ODI squad
Temba Bavuma (captain), Quinton de Kock (wk), Beuran Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Janneman Malan, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Jon-Jon Smuts, Rassie van der Dussen, Junior Dala, Lutho Sipamla, Wiaan Mulder, Sisanda Magala, Kyle Verreynne, Daryn Dupavillon, Lizaad Williams.
Start: 10am, TV: Supersport