Johannesburg — A number of Proteas players will be back for their provinces in this weekend’s Cricket South Africa 4-Day series, with some – like Andile Phehlukwayo desperate for match time with the Dolphins – while others, like Theunis de Bruyn, will be hoping to build confidence and find form ahead the Test series against Australia.
Proteas interim coach Malibongwe Maketa has been in touch with all the players who were selected in the 16-man squad for the Australian tour. Only Temba Bavuma, the limited-overs captain, and fast bowler Kagiso Rabada will not be required to play at least one of the four-day matches before the Proteas depart for Australia on December 1.
SA will play three Tests Down Under.
“The hurt of the (T20) World Cup is going to be there and we’ve given them enough time to process that, but most importantly was that this (the tour to Australia) is the next big thing that we are going to focus on,” said Maketa
.“It is for them to go away, and the plans have been laid out for them in terms of what they need to do so that they are ready for the first Test on December 17.”
Test captain Dean Elgar, De Bruyn, Heinrich Klassen and Simon Harmer will all feature for the Titans in their match against the Knights at SuperSport Park. Elgar will hope to spend more than eight balls at the crease, as was the case last week, when he appeared to be the victim of an umpiring error.
Sarel Erwee for the Dolphins and Rassie van der Dussen for the Lions are the other top-order batters, who will be under the most scrutiny in the next few weeks, as Maketa hopes to have players who are in form and confident to take on Australia.
SA’s batting has been its main weakness in the last few months, and in Test defeats to India and New Zealand last summer and then in England a few months ago, it was the batting that failed.
It has to be said that the Proteas have played on some very difficult pitches against top-class bowlers, but their opponents have found a way in a manner the South Africans haven’t.
Australia usually provides good batting conditions, with good pace, bounce and minimal movement. On the Proteas’ last tour there in 2016 both Elgar and Bavuma contributed significantly to the series win – Elgar with a century in Perth and Bavuma with half-centuries at the Waca and then again in Hobart.
That batting unit also comprised of Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy, all with truckloads of experience, none of whom can be called upon now.
On the bowling front, the main set of quicks who operated in the last series won’t be in action in this weekend’s round of matches. Lungi Ngidi wasn’t included in the Titans squad, while Anrich Nortje has been allowed to sign up for a T10 tournament in Dubai. The Warriors were hoping that Marco Jansen, who didn’t feature at all for the Proteas in the World Cup, would be allowed to play against the Dolphins in Gqeberha.
Meanwhile for Phehlukwayo, who is now on the periphery as far as the Proteas are concerned, and didn’t get signed by any of the SA20 teams, the four-day series offers an important opportunity for him to get some much-needed game time into his legs, with a goal to dominate for the Dolphins.
Division One: North West Dragons v Lions, Potchefstroom; Western Province v Rocks, Newlands; Warriors v Dolphins, Gqeberha; Titans v Knights, Centurion