Cape Town – Don’t expect the Proteas to show their full hand on the upcoming white-ball tour of India, says coach Mark Boucher.
The Proteas men’s team depart for the subcontinent on Friday where they will play three T20I’s and three ODI’s. The first-leg of the tour is particularly significant as it is the team’s last match preparation ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia next month.
Boucher will therefore be keeping some cards close to his chest with Rohit Sharma’s team in the same T20 World Cup group as the Proteas. The two sides lock horns at the Optus Stadium in Perth on October 30.
“It’s a massive tour for us, the tour before the big event, which is the World Cup,” Boucher said.
“We hope to see a couple of options and give opportunities to players, albeit in Indian conditions. We know we will have to play a different brand in Australia, but I know we’ve got the players to push for a great outcome.
“Don’t expect us to go at them with our full-frontal team. We’ll try and get everyone involved and ready in India, there are three T20s and three ODIs to get the guys in form and fit. I want to look at combinations, keep them in touch in terms of form and try to get the confidence going.”
After a near-disastrous start to his Proteas coaching tenure that saw the national team lose six successive T20I series, Boucher and his team have made a miraculous turnaround in the shortest format winning five of their last seven series, with one lost (Australia home) and another drawn (India away).
A large part of that success has been due to Rassie van der Dussen’s form during this period, but the experienced right-hander has been ruled out of the India tour and subsequent T20 World Cup with a hand injury sustained in the second Test against England in Manchester.
Van der Dussen’s enforced absence therefore necessitates a change in the line-up, although this potentially opens the path for a smooth transition for captain Temba Bavuma’s return after he missed the tour of the United Kingdom due to an elbow injury.
The emergence of the explosive Tristan Stubbs has also given the coaching staff and selectors plenty of options in the middle-order. Stubbs, who was picked up for the highest price of R9.2 million at the inaugural SA20 League auction earlier in the week, has certainly brought a refreshing energy to the Proteas camp with his fearless batting approach.
“It’s a massive blow not having Rassie van der Dussen and his whole aura around the team,” Boucher said. “But we are fortunate to have lots of guys pushing for selection, the competition for places is massive. And we can compete in any conditions.
“The nice thing about being together for a long time is that we have continuity, but also some exciting new talent that doesn’t have the scars of the past.
“A lot of teams don't know about a guy like Tristan Stubbs and that makes him dangerous. He’s had a little bit of a go in international cricket, we didn't’ rush him into any selection, and when he got to England on a big stage against a very good England team, he showed what he can do. He is an exciting prospect that not many teams know of, which is great.
“We’ve been the most successful T20 side over the last 25-30 games and we have a lot of special players. I have full confidence that we have lots of ammunition, now it’s about getting the guys to go out and play and be world-beaters.”