Plenty of water – perhaps mixed with a lot of muck – needs to flow beneath South African cricket’s bridge before the Proteas next appear in a One-Day International, but Faf du Plessis knows change is in the offing especially on the personnel front.
That much is of course obvious. Already JP Duminy and Imran Tahir have left vacancies that need filling, while Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla and Du Plessis himself are unlikely to be around for the 2023 World Cup in India.
Du Plessis however stated upon returning to the country on Monday that he remains motivated to continue his international career, including in the 50-over format to assist in the transition period over the next couple of years.
There will also be a new selection panel with the current group, overseen by Linda Zondi, ending its tenure once the team for the tour to India is picked.
And then there’s question of the next coach – if there will be a new person in the position. Ottis Gibson has said he’d like to stay on, claiming he has “unfinished business” with the Proteas, and his fate – and possibly Du Plessis’ – will be decided at a special CSA Board meeting on July 20.
However that hasn’t prevented Du Plessis from throwing out a few ideas that CSA should consider.
“Everyone comes into contention now,” Du Plessis said of new players likely to don the Proteas one-day gear. He even named a few including Reeza Hendricks and Temba Bavuma, who weren’t at the World Cup and Aiden Markram, who was, but had a disappointing tournament. “Aiden is not an established player (in the ODI side),” Du Plessis added.
“He will have a significant role to play in South African cricket,” Gibson said of Markram.
“At the moment he isn’t putting the runs on the board that we all expect, but when you see him bat, the 30s he makes are world class 30s. I’ve had a conversation with him and told him ‘you don’t want to be a world class 30s batsman.’ I know he will turn the corner and make a lot of runs for South Africa.”
Gibson expects, Quinton de Kock, Markram, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Andile Phehlukwayo to be the new core around which South Africa’s ODI unit will be built.
Du Plessis feels Bavuma, who’s played just two ODIs is worth a further look at the highest level. “Temba has improved a lot as a white ball cricketer. Initially his style of play was more suited to Test cricket but we saw at the end of the domestic T20 Challenge, he got a hundred so that is him putting his hand up, saying ‘pick me.’”
Bavuma did a lot more besides that century in the T20 Challenge final for the Highveld Lions. He averaged 55 in five innings in the Momentum One-Day Cup, scoring his runs at a strike rate of 99.53. Bavuma admitted he wasn’t happy at being overlooked as a candidate for this year’s World Cup and in batting for the Lions in both domestic white ball competitions last season, he showed how he’d changed his game adopting a more aggressive attitude.
The 29 year old is currently playing for Northamptonshire in England, and in his latest innings for the county, scored 103 off only 126 balls against Lancashire in a four-day match.
The Proteas’ next ODI is only scheduled for February next year, against England. “We’ve not had those chats (about the ODI side) yet because a lot needs to happen before we can even talk about who will be then next one day team,” said Du Plessis.