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Ken Borland


Does Markram stay or go? What of Jansen or Magala? And Boucher … ?

Posted on February 22, 2022 by Ken

South Africa’s stunning 3-0 whitewash of India has answered many questions surrounding the ODI squad as the heavily-favoured tourists lacked the composure or the skills under pressure to register a single victory over the Proteas, even in conditions that suited them.

Five batting places are secure with Quinton de Kock and Janneman Malan entrenched as the opening pair, Temba Bavuma averaging 51 in the No.3 position, Rassie van der Dussen being the master of the middle-order and David Miller showing the value of his finishing experience in the nailbiting final ODI.

In terms of the bowling, Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi remain crucial in the middle-overs and seamers Lungi Ngidi and Andile Phehlukwayo both had fine series with the ball, keeping the batsmen guessing with their range of skills.

Bavuma has also unequivocally shown he is the right man to lead the team.

So what questions remain for the Proteas ODI side?

  • Has Aiden Markram done enough to stay in the starting XI or do South Africa sacrifice the sixth bowler for another batsman?

There is no other obvious candidate for the ‘JP Duminy role’ of batting in the top six and being able to bowl a few tidy overs of spin, so it’s a straight choice – keep Markram and have that sixth bowler, or drop him and have just five bowlers and possibly a more consistent batsman.

But Markram did a fine job with the ball, conceding just 5.00 runs per over in 17 overs and taking a couple of wickets. There were also encouraging signs with the bat in the way he stayed with Van der Dussen to help steer the Proteas to victory in the second ODI with a confident 37 not out. He was batting with good positive intent in the last game as well, before being caught on the boundary.

  • Should Marco Jansen be a regular part of the starting XI?

The left-arm quick enjoyed a brilliant maiden Test series and was immediately thrown into the first ODI, where he bowled nine wicketless overs for 49 runs, lacking the consistency he had shown with the red ball. The 21-year-old is clearly an outstanding talent, but maybe we should all take a breath and not burden him with a big workload right now in white-ball cricket as well. While he brings useful variety to the seam attack, the Proteas still have Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Ngidi in that department.

  • What is Sisanda Magala’s future?

Captain Bavuma made a plea after the series that Magala does not receive half-hearted backing but that the selectors “suck everything they can out of what he offers”. A perennial poor starter – those nerves need to be managed somehow – Magala however showed promise when he bowled in the middle overs and at the death. He fairly thuds the ball into the pitch, hitting the bat hard with steep bounce, and he can also go full blockhole when required. The Proteas may have found the sort of skilful old-ball bowler they have been looking for.

  • Will the CSA board listen to the players or decide to derail the team despite their progress and success versus India?

South Africa’s next ODI engagement is in March when they host Bangladesh. By then the fate of coach Mark Boucher should be known. As much as they are able to as contracted employees, the players have made clear how happy they are with their current management, and the results show that.  But will the CSA board ignore the clear growth and improvement in the team and instead only have ears for the tom-toms beating and the cries for one particular head to roll for things that happened twenty years ago?

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