Sport

Du Plessis to captain, De Kock to keep against New Zealand

By Ant Sims 14 December 2012

A whole bunch of new faces have found their way into the Proteas T20 side ahead of their three-match series against New Zealand. Faf du Plessis will captain the side, while Quinton de Kock will don the gloves, with the South Africans possibly blooding a whole host of rookies in the next few weeks. By ANT SIMS.

With a new coach at the helm for the upcoming T20 series against New Zealand, the South African team has opted for a new-look squad, complete with a new captain. Faf du Plessis was named the T20 skipper for the upcoming three-match series against the Black Caps, while Quiton de Kock was picked as wicketkeeper.

Aaron Phangiso, Henry Davids, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell and Lonwabo Tsotsobe are other notable names who have edged their way into the team for the summer. It’s fresh, it’s new and it poses a challenge for coach Russell Domingo, who has to find a way to get a group of players that has never played as a unit to gel together. The good news is, they’ll be aiming to beat a team that can, to an extent, be seen as weak opposition.

Some of the Proteas’ big guns have been included in the side, with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Richard Levi all getting the nod. Finding the right combination for the upcoming matches will be crucial for Domingo and for the team going forward. If the intention is to build a side for the next ICC World T20 in 2014, then the management team has to show faith in the selection and not revert back to players who have been omitted once bigger opposition comes knocking. 

The need for continuity is crucial – that, as well as proper player management. For Phangiso and Davids, who had dream seasons in the T20 Champions League, it’s a chance to prove their worth.  Davids only managed 162 runs in five games at an average of 54.00 with a strike rate of 142.10 – he has the potential to be destructive at the top of the order, and his overall average in T20 is only 22.27, so there’s a definite chance for him to build on that. The right-hander has a wealth of experience and will need to capitalise on the opportunity handed to him. Similarly, Phangiso had a dream season in the Champions League and as a spinner, at the age of 28, he is in the prime of his career. The left-armer hasn’t had the best of tournaments in the One Day Cup, but the shortest format of the game seems to suit him better. He’ll be competing for a spot in the side against Robin Peterson, though, and might only get a run in Port Elizabeth. 

The bad news for Domingo is that he doesn’t have that much time to tweak and tinker with the squad and his combinations. Luckily, he is a wizard in the shorter format and his glory days with the Warriors franchise will serve him well.

Some solace for Domingo is also the appointment of Du Plessis as captain. The 28-year old has a wealth of experience leading a side – and some might see it as somewhat poetic that Du Plessis was selected as skipper of Affies ahead of De Villiers back in their school days.

Du Plessis has been appointed as captain on the premise that De Villiers needs some rest – and that he does. De Villiers has had his workload doubled in the last year, having taken over the gloves for the Test team when Mark Boucher’s career was tragically cut short due to a horrific eye injury ahead of the England tour.

With the pressure of needing to captain in the shortest format of the game as well as take the gloves, De Villiers has had a rough year. And while resting him would be wise, he might also consider stepping down from international T20s altogether. It would take a lot off the shoulders of De Villiers, who looks set to remain the first choice Test keeper for the short-term.  

There is, however, also the possibility that De Villiers might opt to give up T20 internationals completely. It not only lessens his load, but it also allows De Kock, who has long been touted as the Boucher replacement in the years to come, to keep regularly on international level. De Villiers’ record, since taking over captaincy 11 matches ago, isn’t too great: he averages just 19.77 and has never scored more than 40. He has lost the last three matches in which he captained, and while T20 can sometimes be somewhat hit-and-miss, streamlining the T20 setup to be more focused on players with specific strengths and weaknesses might be the way forward for the South Africans. DM

Photo: Faf du Plessis throws at the stumps to dismiss Kane Williamson during the final one-day cricket international against South Africa, in Auckland, March 3, 2012.   REUTERS/Nigel Marple

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