CAPE TOWN – With the World Cup just under two months away, the upcoming One-Day Cup could be the ideal platform for any player from the six franchises competing to put up their name in lights and barge their way into the 15-man squad.
Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince believes “they probably have 14 of the 15 names” down, but “there is still a chance for someone to play a blinder”.
Zaahier Adams profiles five players who could give the selectors something to think about. And even if they don’t make the trip this time around they will surely be pushing hard for national recognition in the future.
Cape Cobras: Jason Smith
There are many who believe that the 24-year-old is the answer to the problematic No 7 spot in the Proteas’ one-day international team. Due to his long levers Smith hits a very long ball, but is equally adept at batting with the tail which is crucial to the role. He can also bowl useful medium-pace and is more than capable of contributing five overs or more.
At the moment he is down in the pecking order below a few all-rounders, but if he is able to string a few consistent performances together in the One-Day Cup, he might just be a late inclusion on the plane to England and Wales.
WARRIORS: Anrich Nortje
The “Uitenhage Express” was the sensation of the Mzansi Super League through his sheer pace until an ankle injury brought his participation in the inaugural tournament to an early end. Despite the injury, Nortje was still picked up in the IPL auction by the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Nortje has completed his rehabilitation and will test his fitness on Sunday in a provincial match for Eastern Province before being unleashed in the One-Day Cup next week. If he rattles a few batsmen again and goes on a wicket splurge, it may be tough to leave him at home.
HIGHVELD Lions: Beuran Hendricks
It would have been great to see 20-year-old Wiaan Mulder compete in the One-Day Cup for the Lions, but just to show how highly he is regarded by the national selectors, Mulder received a Test call-up yesterday for the Sri Lanka series. A close eye should therefore be kept on left-arm seamer Hendricks. Although at 28, Hendricks can no longer be regarded as a youngster, he is a still a rookie in terms of international cricket.
His stocks have certainly risen after a career-best T20 international performance against Pakistan at Centurion on Wednesday and with Proteas coach Ottis Gibson keen to add variety to South Africa’s bowling attack, the fact that Hendricks is a left-armer could just sway the vote his way.
TITANS: Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen
The Titans duo find themselves in the same boat. Unfortunately they may both be left without a paddle if they don’t rack up the runs in the One-Day Cup. Klaasen has not made the most of his opportunities at national level, but remains the first-choice back-up wicket-keeper which could count in his favour.
Markram, meanwhile, has had to look while the likes of Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen have passed him by. He will need an enormous tournament for the selectors too look his way again.