SA v ENG ODIs: Can Quinton de Kock arrest the Protea slide?
Newly-appointed skipper Quinton de Kock will have the onus of curbing South Africa's losing streak in the LOIs against England. Proteas have lost both the ODIs that he has earlier captained the team in.
Onus on de Kock
To be honest, it was a bit surprising when the Proteas dumped Faf du Plessis as their white-ball skipper apart from dropping him from the squad. Instead, they gave the responsibility to the younger Quinton de Kock.
Judging purely on the level of performance, du Plessis was more than decent and averaged over 67 in ODIs in 2019.
ODI captaincy record
de Kock - Won/Lost: 0/2
du Plessis - Won/Lost: 28/10
His record as captain was also nothing short of brilliant with 28 victories from 39 ODIs. The team did lose 10 games but exactly half of these defeats came in the ODI World Cup. Yes, he did make some tactical errors, but at the end of the day, a captain can only be as good as his team.
Apart from Rassie van der Dussen, no other batsman really stood out for the Proteas in the World Cup and placing the blame squarely on du Plessis does not seem a very logical step.
The word from the management is that the team is planning for the next World Cup but with that more than three years away, it's too early for that.
De Kock to his credit has scored at over 45 in ODI cricket with close to 5000 runs from 115 matches and strikes at just about run-a-ball which is quite impressive.
“It’s an exciting group of youngsters that the selectors have picked and it’s a clear sign to everyone that if you put in the hard yards consistently enough, it will pay off eventually,” said de Kock after being appointed the skipper.
“We’re excited to take on a team like England who have had a really good season. It’s a good way of measuring ourselves against the current ODI world champions and the right kind of challenge for everyone from the new guys to the senior players. It’s going be a good, quick and tough series and I’m looking forward to it.”
All said and done, the management is looking at de Kock as a long-term bet and the start then becomes all-the-more crucial. The wicketkeeper-batsman will certainly bring in a new perspective and the Proteas would hope that it does bring about a change in the team's returns in a positive manner.
South Africa had announced their ODI squad on January 21 but four of their players - Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Sisanda Magala and Jon-Jon Smuts - were still due for a fitness test on the last day of the month. Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi and Jon-Jon Smuts have cleared the tests and have also been named for a game each in the ongoing 50-over Momentum One Day Cup.
Sisanda Magala, though, failed to prove 100% fitness and will train with fitness trainer Tumi Masekela. He is expected to be fit by the time the T20 series begins on February 12.
"Sisanda has put in an immense amount of work over a short period of time and we want to ensure he has the tools to deal with the high demands of international cricket when the opportunity arises," Graeme Smith, CSA's acting director of cricket noted. "The Proteas men have an incredibly busy year of limited-overs cricket ahead of them and we want to be certain that our players are up for the demands that will come."
The biggest boost for the team is the return to fitness of Ngidi, who has not featured in competitive cricket since the MSL in December, where he injured his hamstring.
Time for Tabraiz Shamsi to step up
Tabraiz Shamsi has always played as the second fiddle to the senior wrist spinner Imran Tahir. Tahir, over the years, has served the country well but with the veteran having retired from ODI cricket, the Proteas management has shown faith in Shamsi. He is the only specialist spinner named in the ODI squad for the series against England.
The team will now expect Shamsi to give them dividends on the investment they have made on the spinner over the past few years. Shamsi has already played 17 ODIs and has picked up 19 wickets at a decent economy of 5.44.
What you would expect of him to improve upon is his average of 42 and become that wicket-taker in the middle overs who can prove to be the difference between a 350 and a 280-run total.
South Africa squad: Quinton de Kock (c), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Jon Jon Smuts, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lutho Sipamla, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Sisanda Magala, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Janneman Malan, Kyle Verreynne
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