Heinz Schenk
3 minute read
8 Jan 2018
11:36 am

What we’ve learnt from the Momentum One-day Cup to date

Heinz Schenk

Imran Tahir suddenly has Proteas competition, the Cobras and Titans look formidable and has Duanne Olivier delivered a game-changing spell?

Titans spinner Tabraiz Shamsi will be one of a number of national players in action in the local T20 Challenge that gets underway on Friday. Picture: Gallo Images.

As the Proteas and India hog the headlines in what has already been an interesting Test series, the domestic One-day Cup has been quietly moving along in the background.

There’s actually quite a bit at stake in the tournament as a six-match ODI series starts next month and national coach Ottis Gibson has already said he wants to spread the net wider with next year’s World Cup in mind.

And that means the selectors are watching.

Here’s what we’ve learned in the early stages of the tournament.

Imran Tahir has a bit of a fight on his hands

For years now, the evergreen 38-year-old leg-spinner has been the Proteas’ bowling talisman in white-ball cricket.

That’s hardly surprising given his magnificent stats: 138 ODI wickets at an average of 23.72 and 57 T20 wickets at a strike rate of 13.9 and a superb economy of 6.8.

He wasn’t always at his best in the Ram Slam T20 for the Dolphins last month but he was struggling with some niggles.

Tahir returned last week though and bamboozled the Warriors with a spell of 5/21.

Done and dusted then? Not quite.

Tabraiz Shamsi, the mercurial left-arm tweaker of the Titans, has been outstanding the last month or so.

A fringe Proteas player, the 27-year-old ended the Ram Slam as leading wicket-taker (16) and is already ahead in the One-day Cup too with 11.

Both will be in the national squad later this month but the selectors would do well not to just keep Shamsi on the sidelines.

Cape Cobras look familiarly formidable again

JP Duminy has led the Cape Cobras well. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)

JP Duminy has led the Cape Cobras well.
(Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)

It’s now pretty obvious that Ashwell Prince, the Capetonians’ coach, likes giving younger players an opportunity.

Yet it also led to inconsistent results and that’s a bit of price to pay for a franchise used to much success.

Pleasingly, the balance is much better in this competition.

Experienced men like JP Duminy, Richard Levi and Dane Paterson have pulled their weight while younger prospects such as spinner George Linde and exciting all-rounder Jason Smith have found form.

This well-established recipe could make them difficult to beat.

Titans’ depth never ceases to amaze

Andrea Agathangelou has flourished for the Titans. Photo: Gallo Images.

Andrea Agathangelou has flourished for the Titans. Photo: Gallo Images.

There was a hiccup against the Cobras but Mark Boucher’s side – who were rampant in winning the Ram Slam – top the early log once again.

They’ve lost a whole host of internationals yet their smart recruitment has once again been illustrated.

The Centurion-based franchise makes a point of signing or developing players that add real depth when the top-class stars are missing.

It bearing fruit again.

Journeyman opener Andrea Agathangelou is the leading run-scorer in the tournament, 21-year-old Rivaldo Moonsamy made a superb hundred at the weekend and Heinrich Klaasen would be playing international cricket were it not for a certain Quinton de Kock.


A new dawn for Duanne Olivier?

Can Duanne Olivier build on a promising spell? Photo: Gallo Images.

Can Duanne Olivier build on a promising spell? Photo: Gallo Images.

For the past two seasons, the Knights quick has been the leading wicket-taker in first-class cricket and has been duly rewarded with Test selection.

Ironically though, Olivier is currently considered a bit of a red-ball specialist at the moment and hasn’t always been an automatic selection for the central franchise in one-day cricket.

Granted, it’s only one spell but his excellent 4/34 against the Highveld Lions could signal a change.

In a high scoring game – the side’s ended up tied with totals of 272 each – Olivier was a sparkling exception.

South African cricket’s fast bowling depth isn’t all that deep as we’ve seen over the past few months, rendering a development like this one very noteworthy.

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