News / Opinion / Columns

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
27 Apr 2019
9:30 am

Proteas’ bowling strategy for World Cup is highly risky

Heinz Schenk

Even if one views the Proteas’ tactic as reckless, you have to ask the question: what else could they have done?

Dale Steyn has been named in the Test team of the Decade. Picture: AFP

Dale Steyn’s latest injury setback – he has “inflammation” in the right shoulder that kept him out for the best part of two years – raises a huge concern.

With the World Cup looming, the 35-year-old’s absence means the Proteas only have one fit fast bowler currently in their 15-man squad for the showpiece tournament.

Normally, that would have the generally conservative South African sporting public in panic mode.

How can the Proteas base their assault on an elusive World Cup trophy on employing a pace attack that’s so prone to injury?

Interestingly, that hasn’t been the case here.

Either supporters and observers believe there’s still more than enough time for Steyn, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje to regain fitness before the tournament starts, or they consider this overall strategy worth the ultimate risk.

I have no way of proving which one is the case, but if there’s one thing national coach Ottis Gibson and captain Faf du Plessis have done well this season, it is to sell us this tactic.

Ever since last year’s short ODI tour to Australia – a series won 2-1 – the Proteas have made no secret of the fact that they want four wicket-taking bowlers in the 50-over format.

And, by all accounts, it has worked a treat – South Africa have won 10 of their 13 ODIs since commencing that trip Down Under.

Even if one views the Proteas’ tactic as reckless, you have to ask the question: what else could they have done?

By just examining the depth available to the national side, it becomes abundantly clear that the Proteas had no other choice than to go this route.

Young Lutho Sipamla and Titans ace Junior Dala, while having better fitness records in 2018-19, are inexperienced and wicket-takers who don’t always exert control.

At the other end of the spectrum, one could’ve gone with a conservative pick like Vernon Philander.

Again, however, he’s a major injury risk – as he proved at the last World Cup.

The point here is, the Proteas have no other choice but to go with a high-risk bowling strategy to England.

Heinz Schenk.

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