Sport / Cricket

Heinz Schenk
3 minute read
25 Oct 2018
10:20 am

The battle to become the Proteas’ (batting) all-rounder

Heinz Schenk

Faf du Plessis jokes he wants Jacques Kallis back for the World Cup. Instead, these three men need to stake their claims for that role.

Chris Morris. Photo: Gallo Images.

As the Proteas build up towards a quick ODI tour of Australia starting next week, captain Faf du Plessis said that one the side’s biggest headaches is still getting the team balance right.

While South Africa is “85%” sure of how next year’s World Cup XI would look, the troublesome all-rounder slots remain an issue.

“JP Duminy leaves a massive hole,” the Proteas skipper noted.

“He’s a two-in-one player. There aren’t many of those around.”

As a result, the selectors have recalled Chris Morris, Farhaan Behardien and Dwaine Pretorius.

But which of the three are represent the best candidate, especially given that the Proteas want to bolster the batting?

THE FAVOURITE: Chris Morris

The lanky 31-year-old is by no means a batsman in the classic mould.

He’s plainly a gifted hitter who invariably provides impetus when he’s batting and is on his day an ideal No 7.

Morris, however, is still more renowned for his bowling.

Indeed, he’s a classic X-factor bowler – a player that makes things happen but is also prone to being expensive.

But he remains one of national coach Ottis Gibson’s favourites.

“We know from a potential point of view that he’s got so much X-factor,” said Du Plessis.

“This is an important tour for him to make sure he’s getting things right in terms of consistency. On his day, he’s as good as any player in the world. I’m glad he has four-day cricket under his belt. 50-over cricket is about consistency more than anything.”

THE DIBBLY DOBBLER: Farhaan Behardien

Farhaan Behardien of South Africa on the reverse sweep during the 1st KFC T20 International match between South Africa and India at Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on February 18, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)

Still regarded as one of the best finishers in the domestic game, the 35-year-old veteran is a fine exponent.

One skill that counts massively in Behardien’s favour is his ability to adapt as a batsman.

He can be thoroughly explosive – he holds the record for the quickest 50 in domestic T20 cricket – but is also a calm, mature figure in a crisis.

Yet there’s an argument that he’s probably not an out-and-out all-rounder.

“He would obviously need to work on the bowling aspect,” said Du Plessis.

“If you have four frontline bowlers, you need to find another ten overs to make up. That’s a tricky part. Can he bowl five win tandem with someone else, like JP? But with JP not here, 10 overs on Farhaan is a big task.”

THE OUTSIDER: Dwaine Pretorius

Dwaine Pretorius. Photo: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images.

Du Plessis joked that he’d like someone to call the peerless Jacques Kallis to come of retirement and play in the showpiece next year.

It’s obvious why.

Kallis was one of the rare breed of players who was a frontline batter and bowler. You couldn’t classify him as a batting or bowling all-rounder.

He was simply an all-rounder.

Pretorius is not Kallis (no-one will ever be), but in the current context he is the closest equivalent to domestic cricket’s proper all-rounder.

The 29-year-old is one of the Highveld Lions’ leading batsmen and, crucially, is a bowler with the potential to excel in all conditions.

He’s nippy enough to thrive on a faster surface while also bowling various cutters and tight lines on a slower surface.

Pretorius is a confidence player and if it’s high, he thrives.

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