Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
3 minute read
11 Feb 2021
8:40 am

Pakistan series gives fringe players a chance to cement themselves in Proteas T20 squad

Ken Borland

What are the roles for which there are still selection question marks in the Proteas squad ahead of the T20 World Cup?

All-rounder George Linde has an opportunity to secure his spot as South Africa's back-up spin bowler. Picture: Gallo Images

South Africa have played 14 T20 Internationals in the last two years and have used 26 players in that time.

Of the squad that will start a three-match series in Pakistan at 3pm on Thursday, Tabraiz Shamsi (13/14), David Miller (11/14), Dwaine Pretorius (9/14) and Andile Phehlukwayo (8/14) have been pretty constant selections in the Proteas T20 squad.

But with the T20 World Cup scheduled to be played in India in October/November this year, who are the other players looking to book their places in the first-choice squad over the next week?

Back-up spinner

With Imran Tahir appearing only once in the last two years, it would appear wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi is now the first-choice spinner. But the effectiveness of spin bowlers in T20 has been a constant through the years, especially in India, and South Africa would love to be able to field two tweakers. Ideally, to balance the side, the second one should be a batsman as well.

The players who fit that description are Bjorn Fortuin, George Linde and Jon-Jon Smuts, all accurate left-arm orthodox bowlers.

Linde is the one who has had most to cheer about lately, taking five wickets the last time he bowled, in the second Test against Pakistan. With an average of 17.78 and a strike-rate of 136 in franchise T20s, the left-hander can certainly bring some power-hitting to the No 6 position.

Fortuin is probably the best bowler of the three, but he is the weaker batsman, while the 32-year-old Smuts is ‘Mr Consistent’ and he has already excelled with both bat and ball in the five ODIs he has played.

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Fast bowling back-up

Kagiso Rabada, now back resting in Bryanston, and Lungi Ngidi, the pride of Kloof, are the twin pace bowling spearheads of South Africa’s first-choice T20 side. There is quite a divide in terms of success, however, between them and the other pacemen who are striving to be in the World Cup squad.

While Anrich Nortje is also back resting in South Africa, Junior Dala and Lutho Sipamla have the opportunity to make themselves regulars in the squad, while the uncapped trio of Glenton Stuurman, Nandre Burger and Okuhle Cele will want to show their abilities as well.

The No 3 link-man

Temba Bavuma is establishing himself as Quinton de Kock’s opening partner and Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller have cemented their places in the middle-order. But will veteran Faf du Plessis make it to another World Cup? The 36-year-old had a little dip in form last year, his strike-rate dropping from 145 to 125, but he does still churn out the runs in the shortest format.

If Du Plessis is not going to be at that No 3 node, who could possibly replace him?

Heinrich Klaasen and Pite van Biljon are more finishers who bat five or six, while Reeza Hendricks has plenty of experience in the top three but needs to regain his best form. If Janneman Malan blossoms then he could force his way into the reckoning and cause the batting order to shuffle with Bavuma maybe moving to No 3.

Ryan Rickelton and Jacques Snyman are the up-and-coming young stars who have excelled at franchise level batting in the top three as well.

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