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World cup warning as Proteas bomb

A series whitewash just a week before the start of the T20 World Cup has left the Proteas with more questions than answers, writes Ryan Vrede.

Much has been made of the absentees from the Proteas squad that lost 3-0 to the West Indies, most of who are expected to be in the XI for their world cup opener against Sri Lanka next Monday.

However, it is telling that prior to the Windies series, the Proteas had won just two from eight T20Is since the last T20 World Cup (now two from 11), suggesting significant underlying issues, even with their best available team.

The series represented an opportunity for those on the fringes of the starting XI to advance their cause. Very few did.

Ryan Rickelton, who has excelled in domestic T20 cricket recently, has yet to translate that form internationally. Coach Rob Walter said last month that Rickleton would form part of his top four, alongside Reeza Hendricks, Quinton de Kock and Aiden Makram. Rickelton is just three T20s into his international career, but he needs to adapt quickly.

De Kock’s form continues to be a point of concern. He averaged 21 in the Windies series and has struggled in the BBL, the SA20 and the IPL recently. He is a match-defining force when batting well, but he has to be held to a high standard and have consequences for chronic failure in the same way others would. He has earned patience, though.

A return to form for the aforementioned players will be made harder by the unpredictability of drop-in pitches. Most expect these wickets to seam considerably early on in the tournament, after which they’ll become slower and lower, suiting spinners. The Proteas will lean on the experienced core of batters to navigate this challenge.

With the ball, Anrich Nortje’s ongoing mediocrity is worrying. At his very best, Nortje was among the premier fast bowlers in T20 cricket. But he has struggled with injuries recently and looks well off his peak, evidenced by an economy-rate exceeding 12, with zero wickets in the Windies series.

Walter has a range of good fast bowling options available to him, and as it stands, Nortje is unlikely to make the starting XI. However, if Nortje can find his pre-injury form, he will be a transformative addition to an XI and indeed their tournament prospects.

Bjorn Fortuin conceded just 7.50 runs per over in the series, bowling with considerable control and intelligence. Walter has a number of bowling combinations available to him, but as it stands, the prospect of Fortuin and Keshav Maharaj’s suffocating style must be appealing, particularly since Fortuin is a competent batter.

With the world cup just a week away, there are so many questions about fundamental parts of the Proteas’ campaign. A poor tour of the Windies compounded concerns. Time will reveal how significant they are.

Highlights: West Indies vs Proteas (3rd T20I)

Proteas T20 World Cup squad: Aiden Markram (c), Ottniel Baartman, Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Ryan Rickelton, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs.

Proteas’ T20 World Cup fixtures:
Monday, June 3: vs Sri Lanka, New York, 16:30 (SA time)
Saturday, June 8: vs Netherlands, New York, 16:30 (SA time)
Monday, June 10: vs Bangladesh, New York, 16:30 (SA time)
Saturday, June 15: vs Nepal, St Vincent, 01:30 (SA time)

The post World Cup warning as Proteas bomb appeared first on SA Cricketmag.

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