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Ken Borland

Nortje & Klaasen back, Maharaj handed captaincy 0

Posted on August 25, 2022 by Ken

Anrich Nortje and an in-form Heinrich Klaasen are back in the ODI fold and Keshav Maharaj has been handed the captaincy in the absence of Temba Bavuma, but what will the Proteas want to get out of their three-match ODI series against world champions England that starts at Chester-le-Street on Tuesday afternoon?

The series does not form part of the Super League, so there are no crucial World Cup qualifying points at stake.

A settled batting line-up in both personnel and strategy

The injury to Temba Bavuma has created the opportunity for someone else to show what they can do in the top-order. Janneman Malan will want to continue his phenomenal ODI form (averaging 59 with a strike-rate of 87) as Quinton de Kock’s opening partner, while showing the ability to match his approach to the game situation.

Aiden Markram could shift into the No.3 position and have yet another chance to establish himself in the ODI team, while Reeza Hendricks and Khaya Zondo are also options. Zondo is more of a middle-order batsman for KZN, however, and so is probably competing with Rassie van der Dussen (average 71, strike-rate 88) or the in-form finishing duo of David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen for a place.

In what is perhaps a backhanded compliment, England have recalled leg-spinner Adil Rashid to their squad, and the left-handed Miller and Klaasen, arguably South Africa’s best player of spin, will be crucial in countering him.

ODI cricket is a new game these days and the Proteas batsmen have to show they are keeping up with the new strategic demands.

Fast bowlers who can make batsmen squirm

England’s batting line-up have been at the forefront of the bold new approach in ODIs. But India’s superb attack showed in their series win against them in the last week that high-quality pace bowling can defuse the threat.

The resting Kagiso Rabada will be missed, but fast bowler Nortje is back to provide the hard lengths and fiery pace that is difficult to hit, while Lungi Ngidi has been in fine form with the white ball in recent times and Marco Jansen brings left-arm heat which can be awkward.

Maharaj to avail himself of intel

Given England’s recent battering of the two teams who contested last year’s World Test Championship final – New Zealand and India – and the Proteas currently being No.1 in those standings, the Test series against England is probably the priority, especially with no Super League World Cup qualifying points at stake.

Keshav Maharaj, besides having another opportunity to showcase his captaincy skills, is probably delighted to be able to avail himself of the opportunity to get used to the English pitches. The left-arm spinner is an excellent ODI bowler, and the two wickets he took in the first over of the last warm-up against the England Lions showed what a factor he could be in the series.

De Kock the man to lead the batting

Now that he no longer has the burden of captaincy, Quinton de Kock will want to show he is the leader of the Proteas batting line-up. While his T20 form of late has been frustrating (last 6 innings, HS = 34, average 17.50, SR 110.53), he has been consistently superb in ODIs with 751 runs in his 14 innings since 2020, at an average of 53.64 and strike-rate of 101.34. The 29-year-old will want to show that he is still a man to be feared by bowlers.

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