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Ken Borland



Boucher will have nine of his WC squad, but will still have big calls to make 0

Posted on September 12, 2022 by Ken

South Africans who love both their cricket and their rugby will recognise the similarities between what national coaches Mark Boucher and Jacques Nienaber have been doing with selection lately, and the Proteas mentor will probably have nine of his 15-man squad for the T20 World Cup in two-and-a-half months time already settled.

It was a typically ballsy call by Boucher to keep the same XI that were slaughtered in the first T20 against England for the second match, but it paid off as they kept the series alive with a highly-impressive all-round showing in Cardiff.

By resting players such as Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, Dwaine Pretorius and Anrich Nortje, Boucher has almost been fielding a second-string outfit, much as Springbok coach Nienaber did for the second Test against Wales.

But he will now know that explosive batsmen like Rilee Rossouw and Tristan Stubbs need to be part of his squad for the T20 World Cup in Australia, as does Lungi Ngidi (if there was any doubt). A player like Andile Phehlukwayo has been given a fair chance to also showcase his strengths, as well as his weaknesses.

Boucher will still, nevertheless, face some really tough selection decisions.

Reeza Hendricks, who seems to attract criticism as unfairly as Willie le Roux does, has justified his selection for the tour to England with wonderful back-to-back half-centuries, but will he be in the World Cup squad? The 32-year-old has really sped up his scoring rate in the two T20s against England, lifting his career stats to an average of 27.58 and a strike-rate of 124.71.

The other contenders for the opening batsman slot alongside Quinton de Kock are the injured Temba Bavuma (average 26.76, SR 120.60), Rassie van der Dussen (38.14 & 130.37) and Rossouw (35.58 & 144.25).

Will Boucher and the selectors be brave (or foolish) enough to leave out the appointed captain, especially given how important Bavuma is to the transformation agenda?

I have not mentioned Markram in this conundrum because he will be going as a middle-order batsman who is averaging 39.20 with a strike-rate of 147 and is third on the ICC rankings. He also provides the Proteas with a sixth bowler, which I still believe is crucial.

Van der Dussen is the next best South African in 10th place and should surely be on the plane to Australia given how useful his ability to bat just about anywhere will be.

South Africans will fondly recall the exploits of their famous fast bowlers Down Under, but the nature of current T20 cricket will probably dictate that only three frontline pacemen will be chosen for the World Cup – Kagiso Rabada, Ngidi and Nortje.

Pretorius – remember he was South Africa’s joint leading wicket-taker with Nortje in last year’s T20 World Cup – and Phehlukwayo, who has taken 44 wickets in 37 matches, will probably edge out Wayne Parnell for the all-rounder berths.

Heinrich Klaasen, who has been in great form, will be counting on the Proteas taking two wicketkeepers to Australia.

It has also been good to see Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi affirm that they are still South Africa’s two best white-ball spinners.

Experimenting with players does not only confirm which ones are good enough for international level, it also shows the ones who are not yet ready for the step up, and this is more what Nienaber learnt from his selection gamble against Wales.

But you know your depth must be pretty good when players like Reeza Hendricks and Parnell, or Marcell Coetzee and Aphelele Fassi, are probably not going to make your World Cup squad.

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