Town – The Test series was a write-off, with the Proteas beaten heavily in both
contests by a superior Sri Lankan pitfit, but there was at least some good news
for the visitors when they emerged with a 3-2 victory in the ODI series.
With the 2019 World Cup in
England now less than a year away, South Africa and the rest of the cricketing
world will be prioritising ODIs over everything else.
Having raced to a 3-0 lead in the
ODIs, the Proteas then experimented somewhat in the final two matches of the
Quinton de Kock was made captain
for those matches with Faf du Plessis out injured, and while the results did
not go his way he would have learnt a lot.
There were some obviou positives
to have come out of the series, but there are also a few obvious concerns that
remain as coach Ottis Gibson looks to find his best combinations ahead of
Here, we look at five talking
points to have come out of the series. Pics from Getty.
new ball in good hands
When the injured Du Plessis
addressed media in Cape Town on Friday, one of the things he was most excited
about was the opening pairing of Kagiso
Rabada and Lungi
Rabada’s destructive abilities
are known to the world, and he was always going to be a key figure in South
Africa’s World Cup plans, but he seems to have an increasingly able partner in
The 22-year-old took 10 wickets in the
series – more than any other Proteas – at an average of just 20.50.
Junior Dala was also given a
valuable taste of ODI cricket in the final two ODIs, and when one considers
that Dale Steyn might also be in the World Cup picture, then the Proteas look
to have that department in trustworthy hands for now.
Philander is another option, but at this stage of the preparations it
is difficult to see him being involved.
Finishers down the order a problem
When one thinks of a Proteas team
that boasted the likes of Lance Klusener, Mark Boucher and Shaun Pollock in
their lower order, it is clear that this is a problem area for the Proteas of
Phehlukwayo’s technical flaws with bat in hand are there
for all to see, and he is not the guy you currently want to come in to win you
a game when the pressure has been turned up to maximum.
Mulder looks a good enough player, but does he have the muscle and
clean-hitting ability to go at 12-an-over when it matters most?
The rain-affected 4th ODI saw the
Proteas find a way to lose, somehow, from a position where they should have
Nobody was guiltier than David Miller, who
could not get the job done.
Miller’s role in this side is
crucial. He is a player entrusted with finishing off innings and getting the
Proteas over the line.
But, with a return of just 85 runs
from 4 innings,
the 109-ODI veteran still has some convincing to do.
The likes of Farhaan Behardien
will be waiting for their chance.
3. De Kock
and Amla save Proteas one headache
One area where the Proteas are
settled is at the top of their order, where Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla remain
the most obvious opening pair.
Amla is still far from his best –
he averaged just 32.20 in the series – but he did show glimpses of being on the
His partnership with De Kock just
combination is one thing, but De Kock spoke last week of the calming influence
that Amla has on his batting.
Both players are adaptable enough
to change their approach depending on the match situation, both have the
ability to win matches by themselves and together they are a major weapon for
the Proteas heading into next year.
The pair averaged just 39.6 for
the opening partnership in Sri Lanka, which wasn’t helped by Amla’s first-ball
duck on Sunday.
troubles are very, very real
Sunday’s final ODI in Colombo
showed that South Africa’s troubles against spin bowling are not limited to the
Akila Dananjaya picked up six
wickets in the match and 14 in
the series as the Proteas struggled to pick him throughout.
Thinking that spin will not be a
factor in England is also a mistake.
Just because the World Cup will
be played in England does not mean that wickets and conditions will favour seam
bowling and nothing else.
ODI wickets around the world
these days are generally flat, and England will be no different.
Spin bowling will play a major
role, and if South Africa are to lift their first ever World Cup trophy, they
will have to be a lot better in that department.
emerges as key to life after AB
JP Duminy impressed
in the series, scoring 227 runs
at an average of 56.75.
Thanks to the retirement of AB de
Villiers, the Proteas need new middle-order match-winners.
Duminy, along with skipper Du
Plessis, will be key in that regard.
Often criticised for his
inconsistency at international level, Duminy has played with purpose and
freedom throughout this series.
It looks as if his retirement
from Test cricket has done wonders for his ODI game.
De Villiers’ absence is a huge
loss for South Africa, and it leaves the middle order exposed.
Aiden Markram struggled immensely
in Sri Lanka while Reeza Hendricks and Heinrich Klaasen are inexperienced at
The likes of Themba Bavuma and
Khaya Zondo might still come into the middle order conversation, but Duminy is
looking increasingly important to the Proteas cause.