Sport

Will the real Proteas XI please stand up

2019-02-06 12:42

The Proteas used the series against Pakistan as an opportunity to experiment. Should they still be experimenting with five one-dayers remaining before the World Cup?

It’s always difficult commenting from outside because you don’t know what the thinking is as there are a number of things we’re not aware of. Personally, I would have liked to know where I stood 10 games ago.

My theory is that the team that’s going to play in the final of the World Cup should play as many games as they can together; that gives you the best chance of playing in a World Cup final. With these tournaments, it’s not about trying to see if this guy is the right player, it’s about making sure he’s ready because you know he’s the right player.

How would you solve the number seven problem?

It’s always a balancing act. It’s a luxury to have someone that’s a genuine all-rounder in that position, so it’s a tough one to answer. If I don’t have the right batting and bowling option, I’d probably use the top seven to make up the fifth bowler. In other words, if they’ve got concerns about batting in English conditions, pick a guy you’re happy with and then JP Duminy or whoever is going to have to make up those 10 overs.

Proteas coach Ottis Gibson first wanted to play a team full of all-rounders and went the specialist route when he couldn’t find many. But the team that played the one-day against Pakistan was loaded with all-rounders. What’s the best way to go? Specialists or all-rounders?

I feel the game has moved to specialists. I feel number seven is the spot you can play around with if you want that extra bowler. But I think the game has moved to match-winning specialists.

How difficult do the conditions in England – which are said to seam around in May, flatten out in June and take spin in July – make it to pick a balanced squad for the World Cup?

That is one of the problems with England. If you go to the subcontinent, you know what conditions you’re going to get all the way through, but you get two different conditions with England.

It’s important to cover your bases and make sure you’ve got options because you’re going to have situations when you’re going to need them. It is a challenge going to England when you have conditions that are going to change in the way they probably will.

Fielding has always been a Proteas strength, but they’ve recently taken to dropping catches and not hitting the stumps when they shy at them. Is this a concern for you?

Teams do go through periods when their confidence levels drop, and they do drop a few catches and then suddenly hit their straps and start hitting the stumps again.

It is something you can’t be complacent about because you can suddenly find yourself in trouble. It’s something to keep your eye on as a coaching unit because there’s no doubt that, if you take great catches and have brilliant run outs, you have a massive advantage and an extra player.

Do you have areas of concerns when it comes to the Proteas?

The only concern I have is the one we spoke about at the beginning. I like to know who the team is; I like to know who the 11 are and that this or that change takes place. As a supporter, I feel like I still don’t quite know who the 11 are, and it’s not one or two changes – it’s almost a completely different team. I find that a little unsettling.

Who impressed you the most during the series against Pakistan?

Rassie van der Dussen has obviously gone well in the Mzansi Super League and shown his ability under pressure at the Proteas. The other guy is Andile Phehlukwayo. It’s not so much about us having confidence in him, it’s about him having confidence in himself.

I get a sense that his confidence has gone up another notch; that he’s starting to see himself as a match winner, and that’s important at that level.

Is there anyone outside the system that you think should be there?

I think it’s too late. You can’t be four or five games away from a big tournament and still be experimenting. Surely they know more or less what they want by now.

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February 17 2019