CAPE TOWN – Proteas coach Ottis Gibson might have hoped that he would be closer to his final 15-man squad for the World Cup at this stage, but believed the experimentation with a group of fringe players over the past 18 months was beginning to reap the rewards.
South Africa have trialled a number of players in the past few ODI series with an eye on the World Cup later this year. Bar a hiccup against India at home last year, the results have also still been forthcoming.
This was evident on Wednesday evening at Newlands when the Proteas closed the five-match series 3-2 in the decider. Along with the series victory, a further boost for the Proteas has been the emergence of Highveld Lions batsman Rassie van der Dussen.
The tall right-hander was unlucky not to take the Man of the Series award in his maiden ODI series after stroking 241 runs, which included three half-centuries, at an average of 120.50.
He showed his versatility by scoring runs at the top and in the middle-order. Such performances should see Van der Dussen claim a World Cup spot, even though there is stiff competition among the top-order batsmen.
Proteas coach Ottis Gibson, who serves on the national selection panel, was impressed by Van der Dussen.
“He was outstanding,” Gibson said of the 29-year-old. “He’s done very well and done a credit to himself. When games are so tight and opportunities are so scarce, for him to come in and perform like this is great. When he’s needed to be aggressive, he’s been aggressive.
“The one thing I really like about him is that he’s very calm under pressure. It doesn’t seem to affect him. He knows exactly how he’s going to set up his innings. I’m quite comfortable sitting in the changeroom and knowing he’s at the crease.”
Van der Dussen will have a further opportunity to press home his World Cup claims over the course of the three-match T20 series, starting at Newlands this evening.
Although it is a change in format, Pakistan are the No 1 T20 team in the world and possess a variety of skilful players.
With JP Duminy set to return from injury for the Sri Lankan ODI series starting in March, alongside Van der Dussen’s red-hot form, David Miller is suddenly in the spotlight.
For long time a regular in the Proteas white-ball teams, Miller has been rested for a couple of series now, allowing players such as Van der Dussen to take full advantage of their opportunities. So, after a quiet series against Pakistan when he did have an opportunity, Miller too wants to use the T20 matches to get going again.
“It is obviously quite challenging at times, but as a player you have to deal with something like that. We have committed to the bigger cause because we all want to win the World Cup as a country, so if the selectors want to try different guys that is something you have to accept.
“It allows for no mediocrity to creep into the squad, which means you constantly have to be on your ‘A’ game,” Miller said.@ZaahierAdams