With South Africa embarking on a short ODI series in Ireland, where they will play one match against the hosts and three against India, the selectors having given a few fringe and up and coming players the chance to stake a claim for a place in the squad for the forth coming season. The squad sees Jacques Kallis lead a team without captain Graeme Smith, and all rounder Shaun Pollock, both are being rested, and sees five players called up who did not travel to the Caribbean for the World Cup. The new faces are; Morne Van Wyk, JP Duminy, Vernon Philander, Thandi Tshabalala and Dale Steyn.
A brief introduction follows of the new faces for those unfamiliar with South African cricket.
Morne van Wky
Morne opens the batting for his franchise team, the Eagles, in all forms of the game, but can operate anywhere in the top or middle order. He is a wicket keeper batsman, but whereas Boucher would be classed as a keeper who can bat, van Wyk would be a batsman who can keep. It is likely that, like AB de Villiers, another wicket keeper batsman, he will play as a batsman in this series, and will more than likely open the batting with de Villiers. He has played for South Africa before in an ODI, on the tour of England in 2003 he made his debut in the triangular series final, where South Africa were well beaten by England. Morne has a first class batting average of 39,15 with a top score of 200 not out, and a domestic limited overs average of 41,99 with a top score of 160 not out. van Wyk was recently named MTN Domestic Championship Cricketer of the Year, Standard Bank Pro20 Cricketer of the Year, and Domestic Players Player of the Year and the 2007 Mutual and Federal SA Cricket Awards evening.
Duminy is a stylish top order batsman who has long been heralded as the future of South African batting. He has played 8 ODI’s for South Africa with little success thus far, but much of his initial matches found him batting at number 8 or 9. He has a ODI average of 24 with a top score of 60. He bowls occasional off spin too, and has taken a ODI wicket. His first class record sees him with an impressive average of 50,86 and a top score of 169. Duminy has the potential and class to be a mainstay in the South African batting line up in both ODI and Test teams of the near future. His maturity belies his tender age and many will hope that this is the season when he takes the step up from promising player to established star. Duminy plays his domestic cricket in Cape Town for the Cobras. JP will join an Emerging players team for a series in Australia in July.
Duminy’s Cape Cobra’s team-mate, Vernon Philander, gets his first call up to the South African ODI team. Philander is an all rounder who really came to prominence with some fine displays with both bat and ball in the recent domestic season. Along with Johan van der Wath and Albie Morkel, Philander is seen as one of the potential successors to Shaun Pollock, when the ever green star all rounder decides to pack it in. Philander generally bowls at first change, but can open the bowling, while his batting is particularly effective in the middle order, but would not be out of place in the top order either. He is a particularly effective closer of an innings with the ability to find the boundaries and hit the ball far and hard. He has a first class average of 26,15 with the bat and a top score of 168, while his bowling average is an impressive 24,19 with 5/49 being his best. Philander. Vernon will be part of the Emerging team that heads to Australia in July.
Steyn is perhaps the best known of the new faces in the ODI squad due to his test exploits last season. A genuinely quick bowler, Steyn will add variety and aggression to an attack that was seen as predictable during the World Cup. Although far from the finished article the selectors will be hoping that he has the same impact that Malinga and Tait had during the World Cup, with a role as a strike bowler being earmarked, rather than a containing bowler. His job will be to take wickets, to strike early and to break partnerships. Steyn has played 11 Tests for South Africa, but has be unable to force his way into the ODI set up, only playing 4 ODI’s. He has been picked for this series for his pace and South Africa will be counting on the added explosiveness to complement their reliable attack. Steyn is currently enjoying a spell at Warwickshire which should help to add to his experience and development. Steyn should be a regular in the Test team for the current and future seasons but will be hoping to break into the ODI team too. Should see the recent performances of Morne Morkel for the African team in the Afro Asia series as a spur to enhance his performances, with Morkel waiting to claim a place too.
Tshabalala is the player that the public having been crying out to be included in the national team for over a season now. The young finger spinner is the fresh hope of a nation in need of a spinner for both the long and short version of the game. The public, and even the national team, have had little confidence in the spinners who have tried their luck for SA in the recent past. Tshabalala, although still young and inexperienced, is the player who hopes to change the nations fortunes, in terms of a quality spinner. He first came to the attention of those in South Africa 2 seasons ago in the Pro20 series. In a format that has been pretty severe on spin bowlers Tshabalala excelled, taking his record this season to 31 wickets in 23 games at an average of 14,35 and a strike rate of a wicket every 13,19 balls. His domestic limited over record sees him with an average of 27,42 and an economy rate of 4,65, very respectable figures and the bases for calls for his inclusion. The selectors have been wary to rush him into the tame, with the expectation on such young shoulders the fear is that a few bad performances against world class batsman could hinder his development rather than quicken it. The idea was to give him a few more seasons of domestic cricket to allow him to understand his game more and the role he has to play. The short series in Ireland was seen as an ideal time to give him exposure to international cricket without thrusting to much responsibility his way. As the only spinner in the squad Tshabalala seems guaranteed to make his ODI debut during the series. Tshabalala will join Duminy and Philander in the Emerging players tour to Australia
Sat 23 June Ireland v India
Sun 24 June Ireland v SA
Tue 26 June SA v India
Fri 29 June SA v India
Sun 1 July SA v India