ODIs crucial ahead of Champions Trophy
The Proteas will be looking forward to welcoming back some experienced faces for the start of the all- important one day series against Pakistan starting on Sunday. Normally a five-match ODI series against another top country is important but this one takes on special significance because it is the last opportunity that South Africa will have to put all their ducks in a row before the Champions Trophy which starts in June in the UK.
Coming back to the squad will be coach Gary Kirsten. The T20 didn’t go that well without him and he will relish this opportunity to get the ideal combination finalised for the ICC tournament in the UK.
Kirsten has only been in charge for one ICC event so far in his tenure as South African coach and that was the World T20 in Sri Lanka. That tournament was a very disappointing one for the Proteas and one would think that Kirsten will be very determined to have more success in England as far as the Champions Trophy is concerned.
Also coming back into the one-day fold will be experienced players Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. This is altogether a better combination than the one selected for the T20 series and South Africa have every reason to believe that they can beat Pakistan with a more experienced combination.
The word is that Jacques Kallis may well make himself available for the Champions Trophy. Should this be the case, then surely he has to play some of the one day matches against Pakistan. There are five matches which leaves plenty of scope for Kallis to be part of some of them. It is important that he fits into the one-day combination in this series if indeed he is going to go to England for the Champions Trophy.
The good thing for the Proteas is that Pakistan should be no walkover. They may not be quite as dangerous in the 50-over arena as they are in the T20 matches but they will still present enough of a challenge for the Proteas to get a good idea of what the right combination for the Champions Trophy should be.
I hope we see a keenly contested series and that the Proteas are a lot better and more organised than they were in the T20s and the ODIs so far this summer.
There is no reason why we can't have a thoroughly professional performance in the ODI series like we saw in the test matches over the last few months. Let’s hope for the best.