Encouraging signs overall for SA ODI team
Just how far have the Proteas limited overs team come since the start of the one-day internationals (ODIs) played in South Africa’s international summer?
It is a question that is difficult to answer because, as always, the proof is in the pudding. It is fair to say though that there is evidence that there have been some strides made in the ongoing ODI series against Pakistan.
Something that has been very noticeable during the series against Pakistan is that the selection of the team has had some continuity to it and there have not been many changes to the eleven that have largely played each of the matches.
Admittedly, there was a rather difficult situation to deal with when captain AB de Villiers was banned for two games in the series against New Zealand due to slow over rates. It had, however, been put on the table prior to that series of three games that the Proteas were going to experiment with new and younger players.
The top six batsmen have been in situ for all of the first three matches against Pakistan and while there has been shifting of certain key men here and there to suit the situation of the match, the roles seem to be set for the time being and understood. To say that this has worked better for the side would also be rather premature as a more meaningful evaluation can only be done after the series is over. However, there seems to be a pattern forming as to how the team will look to play.
It would be a reasonable assumption to say that the personnel in the squad will change when the selection of players for the Champions Trophy in England in June is made. Jacques Kallis would almost certainly get back in and then there would be the tricky task of picking the 15 players that actually go to the tournament. Some have made a decent enough case for their inclusion, but others have not been given an opportunity.
While the series has played out on home soil, Gary Kirsten and his management team have been very wise in letting other members of the squad, such as Aaron Phangiso and David Miller, go off and play in the domestic T20 series for their franchises. All the younger and less established players will need some luck when it comes to selection for that England trip though as spots seem to be few and far between when one throws in a fit Morne Morkel, Kallis and maybe also JP Duminy who has an outside chance of being fit by then (he will not be rushed back though).
So, in answer to the initial question the Proteas seem to be headed in the right direction when it comes to arriving at their first eleven and also establishing back-up for the first team but perhaps it is rather too much to expect that all will be sorted in time to have a well oiled machine running at the Champions Trophy. Building a team takes time and sometimes quite a long time too.
The signs are encouraging though.