Imran Tahir’s timely return to form is great news for the Proteas. With spin bowling such an important element in the bowling attack, it is doubly reassuring, given the problems poor old Aaron Phangiso is going through, both on and off the field.
Let’s hope that Dane Piedt continues his fine form against Australia. JP Duminy’s recent form with both bat and ball is a serious concern, and might cost him his place in the side, despite the statistics which show that he is second to only Faf du Plessis in T20s in the last two years with 409 runs at an average of 45.44.
The return of a fit Dale Steyn is great news, leaving the selectors with a lovely dilemma – who to leave out. It is possible that David Wiese may be the unfortunate victim, despite being South Africa’s second highest wicket-taker in the last two years with 18 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 13.61. Some of his scalps against England were rather the result of bad shot selection than good bowling.
Kyle Abbott, Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris are likely to be the other fast bowlers. Morris proved his value as a never-say-die team member, whether he was required to take crucial wickets, score quick runs, or take spectacular catches.
I am drooling at the prospect of seeing Rabada and Steyn opening the bowling. With Tahir coming on in the ninth over, as he did against the English, the stage is set for drama. Tahir’s mental strength took a beating the last time they played Australia. I am holding thumbs that, in the short series starting tomorrow, he will do well – this will make him even more formidable in India.
My colleague Bobby also made an interesting observation regarding the batting line-up. Where and how will they fit in Quinton de Kock?
The top five is likely to be Amla, De Villiers, Faf, Duminy and Miller. At number six it could be one of three: Behardien, Rossouw or De Kock – a tough choice, indeed. Morris is likely to fill the number 7 spot, unless Duminy again fails, which could result in De Kock moving to number 4 and one of the other two batting at 6.
Then there is, of course, the non-existent “quota” aspect which needs to be born in mind to prevent intervention when the team is preparing for a vital game in the play-offs.
We certainly do not want a repeat of events of the previous World Cup, now do we?
Super Rugby Snippets
The derby of the weekend will no doubt be the Cheetahs/Stormers encounter in Bloemfontein. The Grey Old Boys team have, over the years, acquired a reputation of consistently surprising both the Stormers and the Sharks. They will, no doubt, use this as a motivating factor for Saturday’s match. Stormers fans will, in turn, remind the Free Staters of their other uncanny trait to lose closely far more often than win by a small margin.
The match that I will be watching with great interest is the one in Durban, and for two reasons. Will we see a Sharks side more reminiscent of the glory days, rather than the hugely talented underperformers of the last few years? If the Jaguares perform anything like their side did at RWC 2015, it will be a huge delight watching them play. They will be a stern test for the Sharks, and provide the home side with the opportunity of showing that they mean business this year.