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Cricket | South Africa A

Malibongwe Maketa © Gallo Images

‘Opportunity knocks for SA A players’

The settled South African test team is unlikely to be altered after a barn-storming run that saw the Proteas race up the ICC test rankings from seven to two in seven short months, said Malibongwe Maketa, former South Africa A coach and the man at the helm of the Warriors.

He was referring to the South African test team that will start a four-test series against England at Lord’s early in July.

Earlier, the convenor of Cricket South Africa’s selection committee, Linda Zondi, said the teams (South Africa and South Africa A) will go into high performance training for the next ten days.

The test squad might only be announced after the second four-day match on South Africa A’s tour of the United Kingdom.

Probed about the chances of players in the A-team to get into the squad of the number-2 ranked test team in the world, Zondi said he cannot rule that out.

In fact, it could be a bit of a trial tour for the squad and opportunities beckon for the A-players, he said.

Upon announcing the squad earlier, Zondi remarked that the test series will offer the selectors the opportunity to see how some of the players on the fringes of the test side perform ahead of the four-test series.

“We still have time to finalise the test team so that series can give us some pointers before we finalise the test squad.”

Maketa said although he doesn’t want to disagree with the chairman, he sees the A-tour as a new dawn for South Africa A-cricket after a few players opted to take the Kolpak route.

Players might throw their hats into the national ring, but that would only be in the medium term.

The tour gives Duanne Olivier another opportunity to excel (after taking 52 Sunfoil Series wickets).

The only question mark there could be, and which could be contentious, would be around the position of Stephen Cook (who managed 57 runs in his last seven innings).

Yet, the bigger picture reveals he had scored three centuries and two half-centuries for South Africa on challenging wickets in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Cook has blasted 266 runs in the last five one-day innings for Durham and struck 64 in the match preceding it against Gloucestershire, which is a welcome sign that he is regaining self-confidence after a lean trot.

Maketa said Theunis de Bruyn boasts a phenomenal record for the SA A-team (and struck 751 runs in the Sunfoil Series last season).

Aiden Markram was on song in both the Sunfoil Series and the Momentum One Day Cup campaign, compiling 565 runs and 508 runs respectively in the two formats the past season.

But the SA A tour must be seen more as an opportunity for a new-look SA A team to show their mettle after some players became unavailable due to their decision to sign Kolpak contracts.

It also offers chances to those players who have hardly played cricket and has not been part of the Indian Premier League,to put in some hard yards on England soil, he said.

South Africa ‘A’ squad for 50-over series against England Lions: Reeza Hendricks (bizhub Highveld Lions), Jon Jon Smuts (Warriors), Aiden Markram (Multiply Titans), Temba Bavuma (bizhub Highveld Lions), Theunis de Bruyn (VKB Knights), Khaya Zondo – captain (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), Hein Kuhn (Multiply Titans), Dwaine Pretorius (bizhub Highveld Lions), Mangaliso Mosehle – wk (bizhub Highveld Lions), Sisanda Magala (Warriors), Tabraiz Shamsi (Multiply Titans), Lungisani Ngidi (Multiply Titans), Duanne Olivier (VKB Knights), Junior Dala (Multiply Titans), Dane Paterson (BuildNat Cape Cobras).

South Africa ‘A’ squad for four-day series against England Lions: Heino Kuhn (Multiply Titans), Aiden Markram – captain (Multiply Titans), Theunis de Bruyn (VKB Knights), Temba Bavuma (bizhub Highveld Lions), Khaya Zondo (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), Jason Smith (BuildNat Cape Cobras), Heinrich Klaasen – wk (Multiply Titans), Dwaine Pretorius (bizhub Highveld Lions), Rudi Second (VKB Knights), Dane Piedt (BuildNat Cape Cobras), Lungisani Ngidi (Multiply Titans), Dane Paterson (BuildNat Cape Cobras), Duanne Olivier (VKB Knights), Junior Dala (Multiply Titans), Beuran Hendricks (BuildNat Cape Cobras), Dale Steyn (BuildNat Cape Cobras).


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