Proteas need to get over the line in Newlands series-decider
CAPE TOWN – Australia. South Africa. A series decider at Newlands of all places. It’s a good thing the recent extreme Cape Town heat is expected to cool down for today’s T20 showdown as the touch paper has been well and truly lit.
These two rivals are the greatest of foes at the best of times, but they are, of course, back at the scene of Australia’s most heinous crime. It was at Newlands at the most picturesque of venues, with the glorious Table Mountain overlooking proceedings, that the Australians plummeted to the depths of cheating.
Inexcusably it was a deliberate and pre-organised scheme that ultimately led to the leadership core of Steve Smith (captain) and David Warner (vice-captain) banished from the game for a full year, along with the perpetrator Cameron Bancroft for nine months.
Australia have been through the trenches since that fateful day in March 2018. They have absorbed all the humiliation and embarrassment, and have emerged stronger for it. Victory at Newlands today would complete the circle of redemption.
However, the visitors are, not publicly at least, viewing it in this manner. Their minds are completely focused on winning the series in preparation for the ICC T20 World Cup later this year.
“We haven’t spoken about it all. It feels like a long time ago. We have played a lot of cricket between then and now. We’ve played South Africa a lot. Business as usual here,” said fast bowler Pat Cummins.
“Our number one goal over here is to win a series in a high-pressure game against a really good side in their home country. It doesn’t get more realistic to a World Cup final than that. It is a lot to play for. Both games we have played really well for a lot of it, and we (are) just trying to continue that.”
Equally, SA cannot afford to get caught up in the dramas of two years ago. The home 2019-20 summer has been one of great despair, sprinkled with the odd moment of magic to maintain hope.
Quinton de Kock’s team needs to get over the line at Newlands. Their victory in Port Elizabeth on Sunday was extraordinary, and restored some much-needed pride after the Wanderers debacle in the first T20 international against Australia, but it will bear no consequence should SA trip up again.
The opportunity was there against England a fortnight ago. It is here again. For De Kock’s young team to grow and prosper, they will need to take their second chance.
There is the likelihood they may have to do it without the injured Heinrich Klaasen and Temba Bavuma again. Both batsmen have showed good form in the preceding T20s, particularly Bavuma who has struck up a potent combination with De Kock at the top of the Proteas order.
Proteas assistant coach Enoch Nkwe admitted that the team have “missed” Bavuma because “Temba has been playing well”.
The team management would, though, be encouraged by the fact that Bavuma batted for a lengthy period in the Newlands nets after undergoing a rigorous fitness test. His readiness would be a significant boost to the Proteas’ chances of closing out a series for the first time this summer.
Possible teams for Newlands
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (c & wk), Temba Bavuma/Reeza Hendricks, , Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Pite van Biljon, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi.
Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch (c), Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey (wk), Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.