Proteas should call on Ottniel Baartman in T20 World Cup opener

Ottniel Baartman’s performances for the Sunrisers Eastern Cape in the SA20 may result in a Proteas starting berth at the T20 World Cup. Photo: Sportzpics

Ottniel Baartman’s performances for the Sunrisers Eastern Cape in the SA20 may result in a Proteas starting berth at the T20 World Cup. Photo: Sportzpics

Published Jun 2, 2024



The Proteas will head out to the Nassau County International Cricket Ground in New York tomorrow with high hopes and expectations when they begin their T20 World Cup campaign against Sri Lanka (4.30pm SA time start).

The newly-laid surface could lay the foundation to their maiden World Cup success as the three crucial fixtures against Sri Lanka, Netherlands and Bangladesh could paint a clear picture of mental readiness and clear up uncertainty over team selection.

South Africa’s tough fixture list could well work in their favour as the requirement to hit the ground running is imperative. Only two spots are available into the next round, with three strong teams in it with a shot.

Without looking past Nepal, execution and delivery will also be paramount in this game as even net run-rate could play a factor in who proceeds to the next round.

South Africa’s history at ICC events is a picture painted by past scars that always have a way of bringing back painful memories about the many battles previously lost.

This year’s T20 World Cup has not been any different – once again the Proteas have one of the best teams in the competition, with their batting line-up tipped to conquer their past failures.

The Indian Premier League has had a lot to do with this year’s World Cup preparations as the tournament was the last stop before the global event. An individual like Tristan Stubbs grew from this year’s IPL, while the progress of a key member of the Proteas’ plans, Marco Jansen, was stalled.

Many bowlers, including those who will be wearing the green and gold of South Africa, came under tremendous pressure in an IPL season that was raining runs in buckets.

Anrich Nortjé’s return from injury has not been smooth sailing, with his place in the team heading into the first match in danger.

The 30-year-old fast bowler was sidelined by the Delhi Capitals following his ‘death overs’ assault that left him with an average of 42.

Nortjé also went wicketless in two matches against the West Indies in what was also an expensive outing, costing 12 runs an over.

Gerald Coetzee’s decent turnout with the Mumbai Indians may have been impressive in large parts, considering he was also fresh from a lengthy injury. But his death-bowling was not as clean and accurate as he would have liked it to be.

The experienced pair could very well have to battle it out for a spot in the team against Sri Lanka, with Ottniel Baartman’s recent performances pushing him into strong contention.

The only question would be if those in charge of selection will be brave enough to go with form over experience.

The birth of the SA20 has grown the shortest format of the game in South Africa, and the early signs have been there, with Baartman a pure product of a tournament that is fast becoming one of the biggest in the world.

The 31-year-old could be making a late turn-out in international cricket, especially for a fast bowler, but his death-bowling performances in the SA20 and an impressive debut against the West Indies could well see his name ahead of Coetzee and Nortjé’s.