Proteas to start 2019 World Cup journey in Kimberley

14 October 2017 - 14:21 By Telford Vice
Faf du Plessis. File photo.
Faf du Plessis. File photo.
Image: Andrew Boyers

Bangladesh have never beaten South Africa in a match of any description in this country‚ a fact that seems unlikely to be made redundant when the teams meet in a one-day international in Kimberley on Sunday.

Not that Faf du Plessis was reading from that script on Saturday‚ when he said: “Bangladesh have proven in white-ball cricket that they can perform outside of their own country‚ as recently as the Champions Trophy where they made the semifinals.

“Their record in test cricket away from home is completely different. But they’re a very different side when it comes to white-ball cricket.”

The visitors have Shakib Al Hasan‚ the world’s top-ranked allrounder in all three formats‚ back in harness — which can only do them good in the wake of the thrashings they suffered in the test series.

With Shakib no doubt watching from his couch having taken a break from all that‚ South Africa won by 333 runs in Potchefstroom and by an innings and 254 runs in Bloemfontein‚ where the match didn’t make it to the end of the third day.

But does a batting and bowling Shakib trump a batting and fielding AB de Villiers?

De Villiers will play his first match for South Africa since the Champions Trophy in England in June. Few players in any sport in any side anywhere can have as electrifying an effect on their teammates and their opponents alike.

Shakib is a fine player but he’s more arresting off the field than on. In fact‚ he’s lucky not to have been arrested.

In 2010 he verbally abused spectators who moved near the sightscreen during play.

In 2011 he reacted overtly to being booed by his home crowd in Dhaka.

And all in the space of six months in 2014 he was fined and banned for gesturing towards his genitals on live television‚ got physical with a spectator he believed was bothering his wife‚ and was banned for what the suits called “a severe attitude problem”.

You don’t say. By comparison De Villiers is a choirboy‚ albeit one who has acquired what used to be called an artistic temperament in that he rather than his employers — in South Africa at least — decides when he will turn up for work.

Shakib is a member of the same club‚ whose numbers are only going grow as cricket’s collection of T20 circuses becomes steadily bigger.

There are‚ then‚ reasons to be cheerful that the T20 Global League has not been cleared for take-off just yet.

Just as there is reason to look forward to Sunday’s game as a contest between a team who know they are better than their dismal Champions Trophy campaign in England in June‚ and another who will be more confident in this format and keen to atone for their awful performances in the test series.

And there’s Ottis Gibson‚ who has been hired as South Africa’s coach with the naked ambition of winning the World Cup.

“We want to prove a point when it comes to one-day cricket. Last year was a very good year for us‚ bar the Champions Trophy.

“We got ourselves to No. 1 in the world by playing some really good‚ dominating cricket.”

What’s the plan for doing that?

“We’re going to try and look at more players than we usually do‚” Du Plessis said. “In the past two or three years we’ve been a fairly settled one-day unit; there’s not been a lot of guys coming in.

“But we’ve got a vision to see how we can try and grow players in two years‚ how they can fit into the strongest XI — the World Cup side.

“We want to look at 20-plus players over the next two years.”

Starting with 11 in Kimberley on Sunday.