Rollercoaster year for Proteas

2015-12-23 06:00
AB de Villiers of South Africa hits another of his 16 sixes during the 2nd Momentum ODI between South Africa and West Indies at Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Johannesburg. PHOTO: gallo images

AB de Villiers of South Africa hits another of his 16 sixes during the 2nd Momentum ODI between South Africa and West Indies at Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Johannesburg. PHOTO: gallo images

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IT’S been a long, tough year for the Proteas in all formats of the game and it’s far from over with the England side on our shores for a tour that includes four Tests, five ODIs and two T20s.

Still shell-shocked after the 3-0 Test drubbing by India in November/December, the Proteas need to regroup, gain confidence and settle into home advantage to make any inroads against English in the purest form of the game.

General talk has supporters a little hesitant to make any bold predictions, the most concerning factor being individual form. Ask anyone for an opinion on the Protea Test side right now and the general consensus comes down to no one being in form, batsmen having lean spells with the bat and a feeling of having to go back to start to rebuild and become a force once more.

Yes, we still have the No. 1 spot in the ICC Test rankings by a slender four points ahead of India, but we should put that aside now and not let that hang over our heads as we concentrate on playing the Test cricket that does create fear within our opponents.

In the bowling department we have done well. Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander when over an injury are consistent and attack batsmen, while Morné Morkel, when he gets the ball in the right place as he showed in India on spin-friendly tracks, is always a handful.

The brightest flame has been Kagiso Rabada, who continues to make progress in all forms of the game and has a massive future on the international stage.

Simon Harmer did nothing wrong as the Test spinner while Imran Tahir continued to be too loose at times, struggling with length and asking questions of the batsmen. Dane Piedt is coming back into the frame and selection in the Test squad for the England tour can only feed his account with credit.

The World Cup ended in tears and frustration against New Zealand in the semi-final and there was a feeling that, like 1999, this was our best chance in years to lift the trophy. Again it wasn’t to be, but the Proteas continue to be competitive and innovative in this form of the game.

One-Day captain AB de Villiers had a storming year and was head and shoulders the most dominating batsman and the man to watch. His savaging of the West Indies at the Wanderers in the second of five ODIs will forever live in the memory. Fifty in 16 balls, 100 in 31 balls - the fastest ever ODI century in terms of balls faced - and out for 149 from 44 balls. Rilee Rossouw also showed what he is capable of as an attacking ODI batsman and is at the forefront of taking the team into the years ahead.

The T20s allowed coach Russell Domingo to shift and shake combinations as the players look to next year’s ICC World Twenty20 in India in March/April and having won the recent series in India, there is reason to feel confident with the changes and gameplans.

The West Indies, thanks to Chris Gayle, won a three-match T20 series 2-1 in January this year, but the highlight was Dolphins skipper Morné van Wyk’s undefeated 114 at Kingsmead in the third match. Although the rubber was already dead, at age 35 he showed his pedigree and gave solid reason for his selection to the squad after injury to ’keeper/batsman Quinton de Kock.

These are just a few moments through the year that spring to mind

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