Proteas set to thrive in happy hunting ground - Times LIVE
Fri Apr 28 08:24:55 SAST 2017

Proteas set to thrive in happy hunting ground

Alviro Petersen | 2016-02-11 00:57:21.0

Led by the prolific Hashim Amla and the destructive Quinton de Kock, the Proteas will feel as though they have wrestled some momentum away from England, after their match-winning opening partnership in Centurion on Tuesday.

Amla and De Kock must be one of the best opening pairs in the world if you consider their individual records.

And with it being a left/right-hand batting combination, they complement each other well.

Though the South African players performed admirably in Centurion, we have to give credit to head coach Russell Domingo and the entire coaching staff.

Despite wide criticism, they kept at it, and believed that the team could turn it around. The home side was in full control of the run chase on Tuesday - comfortably chasing down 319. However, they know that every game from here on is akin to a final.

The Proteas possess the players capable of beating any team in the world and now head to the Wanderers tomorrow, historically a happy hunting ground for them, buoyed with some degree of confidence.

However, there are a few selection posers ahead. Farhaan Behardien was chosen at first because the selectors saw him as an all-rounder. The question now is, would he make the team purely as a batsman ahead of Rilee Rossouw or David Miller? Probably not.

And would he make the team as a bowler? Definitely not. With Behardien in the team and having to share 10 overs with JP Duminy as the fifth bowler, it makes life difficult for South Africa because he doesn't strike with the ball and goes for more runs than he should.

On the flipside, Cricket SA might decide to utilise him as a finisher. It will be interesting to see how long they persist with Behardien if the team loses - it's a bit easier to brush aside when the team wins.

Thus, his future depends upon how well the rest of the team plays.

For the remainder of the series and beyond, my team changes would see either David Wiese or Chris Morris come in for Behardien - while Rossouw or Miller would strengthen the batting lineup.

Meanwhile, my former teammate Neil McKenzie is set to be added to the Proteas setup as the batting coach. While he must be congratulated on a wonderful playing career, the reality is he doesn't boast coaching experience.

In an effort to fortify the Proteas on the batting front, I was reliably informed that CSA approached Kumar Sangakarra, Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith, among others, but all of them declined the job.

In the end, the choice of who would become South Africa's batting coach came down to Ashwell Prince or McKenzie.

Ultimately, most of the players probably decided that McKenzie was their man, as he's a character in the dressing room and a nice guy to be around.

Neil will bring humour to the national team, but I don't see him changing much. It will be more about him being part of the squad.

Had CSA opted for Ashwell, they would have had a really strong character with no agenda. A man who backs transformation, is straight to the point and is a shrewd tactician. For now, Prince remains a national selector. However, don't be surprised if he decides to do something else, where he might feel that he can be of more use and make a meaningful impact.


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