ODIs will stretch Proteas as World Cup pressure mounts

The most enduring regret from South African cricket’s era of administrative malaise, now fortunately well behind it, was the petty inability to reach agreement with Cricket Australia on the Proteas four-yearly participation in two of the greatest events on the Test calendar – the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the New Year Test at Sydney’s SCG.

They are iconic venues and occasions that can shape, make or even break cricketers’ careers, especially visiting players. Either way, they are never forgotten.

Negotiations started tentatively some months ago to reinstate South Africa as “primary” tourists but, even if successful, this will take many more years to come to fruition. In the meantime, every opportunity to play at the stadiums should be consumed voraciously, albeit in lesser formats and with far less at stake.

Temporary T20 skipper JP Duminy will have the opportunity to win his first series in charge of his country when he leads the team out at both venues on Friday and on Sunday following a convincing victory in the opening match of the series at the rebuilt Adelaide Oval on Wednesday.

After the biennial T20 World Cup, international matches in this format have little significance beyond gate receipts and the introduction of young or new players to international cricket. Cricket Australia will welcome the cash and the Proteas have several reasons of their own to be satisfied, notably the performances of Rilee Rossouw, Kyle Abbott and 19-year-old Kagiso Rabada.

Intolerable pressure
Rossouw’s designated place as the reserve batsman in the World Cup squad was on the verge of intolerable pressure after four ducks in six innings, but his emphatic, man-of-the-match-winning 78 from only 50 balls will have convinced all but the harshest critics of his ability to play at international level.

Abbott has been the standout fast bowler in both T20 and 50-over cricket at domestic level for the past two seasons and his return of 3-21 did as much as Rossouw’s innings to win the game.

With pressure mounting to reintroduce Lonwabo Tsotsobe to the squad for the World Cup, Abbott’s performance was a timely reminder of his skill in the team’s weakest department – death bowling.

Duminy’s successful captaincy debut owed something to luck, as most winning captains do, but there was more than enough evidence to suggest that he can be the genuine article. His own two overs cost just eight runs and he spared Rabada the potentially hazardous task of bowling a fourth over with batsmen lining up his pace for a shellacking.

The Lions paceman looked like a thoroughbred, smooth and fast. The fast-tracking of his career is inevitable and correct. As a black role model he may be “needed”, but he is no different to Dale Steyn at a similar age.

Rabada is potential match-winner, and it would be a source of great regret if, like the great Makhaya Ntini, he is burdened with the perception that his career was advanced by something other than his ability.

The five-match ODI series begins in Perth on November 14. South Africa rested five players from the ODI squad for the T20 series; Australia rested most of theirs. The ODIs will be a different series in every imaginable way, with the World Cup starting in just over three months.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Neil Manthorp
Neil Manthorp works from Cape Town. Talk and write about cricket,golf and most sports. Executive Coach. Cook for the family when at home. Neil Manthorp has over 27405 followers on Twitter.

Related stories

Shabnim Ismail bowls her way into the record books Down Under

The night before Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) final, fiery South African fast bowler Shabnim Ismail lay awake pondering how...

Australian journalists flee China fearing arrest

Their dramatic overnight exit came following days of secret wrangling that had seen both men holed up in Australia's diplomatic missions to escape the clutches of China's feared security police

Facebook threatens ban on Australians sharing news in battle over media law

Australians would be stopped from posting local and international articles on Facebook and Instagram, the company said, claiming the move was "not our first choice" but the "only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic".

It’s just not cricket

Near Makhanda in the Eastern Cape in the village of Salem is a cricket pitch that is said to be the oldest in the country. Watered by blood and trauma, rolled with frontier nostalgia and contemporary paranoia, how does it play?

Empire and environmentalism: The legacy of a brilliant maverick, Richard Grove

The prolific interdisciplinary scholar who worked on the periphery and challenged Eurocentrism also drew attention to the El Niño phenomenon and global warming concerns in Victorian times

Invest in children to give them a better world

This entails putting them at the centre of national strategies, but doing it without high CO2 releases

Subscribers only

FNB dragged into bribery claims

Allegations of bribery against the bank’s chief executive, Jacques Celliers, thrown up in a separate court case

Dozens of birds and bats perish in extreme heat in...

In a single day, temperatures in northern KwaZulu-Natal climbed to a lethal 45°C, causing a mass die-off of birds and bats

More top stories

North West premier goes off the rails

Supra Mahumapelo ally Job Mokgoro’s defiance of party orders exposes further rifts in the ANC

Construction sites are a ‘death trap’

Four children died at Pretoria sites in just two weeks, but companies deny they’re to blame

Why the Big Fish escape the justice net

The small fish get caught. Jails are used to control the poor and disorderly and deflect attention from the crimes of the rich and powerful.

Koko claims bias before Zondo commission

In a lawyer’s letter, the former Eskom chief executive says the commission is not being fair to him

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…