Faf du Plessis has been ruled out of action for six weeks with a back injury, and Quinton de Kock has been recalled to the Proteas side in his place. It doesn’t guarantee De Kock a spot in the starting XI, though. He’ll have to fight it out with local boy David Miller. By ANT SIMS.
The incessantly scrutinised Quinton de Kock will get another chance to prove his worth in the one-day format after he was recalled to the South African team following an injury to Faf du Plessis.
Du Plessis has struggled with his back for a while now, to the extent that he was advised not to bowl at all, and the injury has now reached a stage where he needs to be rested. The injury means Du Plessis will also miss at least the first four weeks of the Indian Premier League, but should be fit for the Champions Trophy in England in June.
“Faf has been troubled by low back pain over the past while,” confirmed Proteas team manager Dr. Mohammed Moosajee.
“He was recently diagnosed with bony inflammation in the lumbar spine and a six-week rest period has been advised. His symptoms have worsened over the past two weeks to the extent that it has become necessary to withdraw him from the current ODI series immediately as well as the first four weeks of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in order to allow for rest and rehabilitation as well as a course of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to further facilitate healing.
“Faf will participate in the later stages of the IPL in preparation for the ICC Champions Trophy in England in June.”
Another chance now beckons for the young De Kock, who was dropped from the ODI side for the series against Pakistan following a rather average performance against New Zealand. The youngster managed just 74 runs in three matches, with a high score of 31 against the Black Caps, but has since then excelled in the domestic T20 competition.
He is currently the third highest scorer* in the T20 competition with 290 runs and a high score of an unbeaten 126 to boot, but even those numbers do not guarantee him a spot in the starting XI. David Miller is also in the squad and could get a call ahead of De Kock.
Miller, who plays for the Dolphins, the home franchise where the fourth ODI will be held, holds the upper hand in terms of familiarity with the conditions, something which Robin Peterson believes will be crucial.
“I’m not sure what the team selection will be, but Miller is the local boy and he’s done well here in the past. He’s been around for a long time and he’s performed at this level. If he gets an opportunity, he’ll perform in front of his home crowd,” the spinner said.
In Miller’s last three T20 games at Durban (for his franchise) he has scored 41, 39 not out, and 17. He’s played just two games there in South African colours.
Those stats certainly aren’t mind blowing, but he has plied his trade at the ground for almost five years and knowing the ins and outs of the notorious Durban pitch might earn him the nod in place of Du Plessis.
Whatever the team put out on the field, Du Plessis will be missed. He played a very handy cameo at the Wanderers on Sunday, hitting 45 off just 19, and it will be a good test of the squad’s strength.
“When you miss players of such quality it’s always a big test of depth, which is important going to the Champions Trophy in England,” said Peterson.
Testing the depth is something the one-day side has done quite a bit since their implosion at the 2011 World Cup. The squad has been shaken and stirred and a number of new faces have come through the revolving doors as the Proteas look for the perfect mix. That perfect mix and the consistency that comes with it is still eluding the side, but Peterson believes the players are finally starting to click.
“People are starting to gel. We’re getting used to each other’s game, which is important if you want to become a more consistent unit,” said the bowler.
South Africa finds itself in pole position. The team has the momentum of coming through under pressure in a close chase, and holds the 2-1 series advantage with just three games left to play. Much like when they played Pakistan at the Wanderers on Sunday, the Proteas expect more of the same ‘hostile’ support for the visitors when they play in Durban.
Peterson also believes that Pakistan plays some of its best cricket when under the cosh, and that pulling off a win against a side so ferociously determined to fight back will be the best confidence booster they could get.
“It’s a must-win game for them, and that’s when they play their best cricket. It’s going to be tough, especially if it’s going to be a bit slower. If we can get through that, it will give us a lot of confidence going forward,” Peterson said. DM
* Does not take into account the match De Kock played on Tuesday night.
Photo: South Africa’s Faf du Plessis drives a ball from Australia’s Mitchell Johnson during the first day’s play of their third cricket test match at the WACA in Perth November 30, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer
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