Young blood injected into ailing Proteas

2010-09-26 14:09

Cricket South Africa has shown its hand with the announcement of the latest limited-overs squads to compete against Zimbabwe and Pakistan, with a notable move towards youth – especially in the Twenty20 squad.

The Proteas are less than five months away from the 2011 World Cup and less than 18 months away from the next ICC World Twenty20.

The squads picked to play against Zimbabwe and Pakistan are notable for the inclusion of some talented youngsters, but also the exclusion of veteran wicket-keeper Mark Boucher.

Boucher was dropped from the one-day team during South Africa’s tour of the West Indies in favour of AB de Villiers, with the selectors feeling that if De Villiers kept wicket, it allowed them to pick an extra batsman.

Tellingly, although De Villiers will be unavailable for the two Twenty20 internationals against Zimbabwe because of injury, the selectors have opted for Titans gloveman Heino Kuhn instead of offering Boucher another chance.

Despite Boucher being omitted from the limited-overs squads, South Africa’s convenor of selectors, Andrew Hudson, said that Boucher still had a chance to play himself into World Cup contention.

Hudson told City Press: “Mark is still in our planning. There is no doubt he is a fine ’keeper, but we want him to be able to bat in the top six. He will have an opportunity to work on those skills during the MTN40.”

Boucher has already shown he is prepared to alter his game. During the Champions League T20 group stages, he batted at five three times and once at four.

The desire for Boucher to be able to hold his own in one of the top six batting positions highlights Hudson’s wish for an overall improvement in the Proteas’ middle order during the Zimbabwe and Pakistan series.

Hudson explained: “We call it the ‘middle mix’ – numbers five, six and seven in the batting order. We need clarity and balance in terms of how our middle order is going to perform, especially in the third power play.”

Hudson, who played in 35 Tests and 89 one-day internationals for South Africa, would also like to see an improvement in the Proteas’ bowling attack.

“On the bowling side, I would like to see us work on our variation and control, and to stay switched on for the full 50 overs,” he said.

In an effort to provide the T20 squad with an injection of youth, Hudson and his fellow selectors have called up the uncapped Warriors duo of batsman Colin Ingram and seam bowler Juan “Rusty” Theron.

Both men are just 25 years old, while the squad also includes ­­21-year-olds Wayne Parnell and David Miller. Hudson is excited by what the young players will bring to the squad.

“I think it is the way we need to go in T20 cricket, which is suited to the younger players.

“We are embarking on an interesting phase and we have the opportunity to test some of our younger players on the international stage.”

– MWP Media

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