There will be none such tomfoolery though at Newlands when the Proteas face-off against England for the second last time on a tour that started as much as two months ago in Potchefstroom. Both teams are acutely aware that a format of the game that was once described as ‘hits and giggles’ is now serious business. And it doesn’t come more intense than the World T20, where they will face off again in less than a month in the cauldron of Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium with plenty more at stake.
“Nobody will be rested over the next two games. They are games we really want to win. Twenty20 is very funny in that regard - when momentum is with you, it can be very kind, but also if you’re struggling to gain it, it can be brutal. If you’re trying to turn around momentum, and gain wins, it’s a terrible game. But if you have momentum with you, everything seems to click,” England captain Eoin Morgan said yesterday.
Proteas captain Faf du Plessis, pictured, echoed his counterpart’s sentiments, although the home skipper intimated their might still be a bit of room to manoeuvre due to getting his entire 15-man squad match ready.
“I do know what our best team is. That’s the great thing about how our plans have unfolded over the last year and a half.
“In that period of a year and a half we experimented with new roles, we tried to see where guys are suited best and in my mind I am pretty clear what that is.
“I see the next five games as just about giving most of the guys’ gametime. You can’t always guarantee everyone time to play. For me the biggest thing is the World Cup and everything is geared towards that.”
Du Plessis is certainly one step ahead of Morgan in knowing “what our best team is” with the England skipper still undecided, although the Irish-born left-hander does “at least having a really good idea of what it is”.
South Africa’s recent success in India when the Proteas beat the inaugural World T20 champions - filled with an abundance of Indian Premier League superstars - would certainly have filled Du Plessis with confidence that his team’s tactical game plans and strategies are on track.
AB de Villiers’ promotion up the order has reaped the desired results and Du Plessis confirmed yesterday that this will continue going forward. The inclusion of two all-rounders - Albie Morkel and Chris Morris - in India and now the latter teaming up with David Wiese has also provided the team with greater balance.
While the omission of the experienced Morne Morkel from the World T20 squad certainly raised a few eyebrows in certain quarters, the emergence of Kagiso Rabada as the genuine article has certainly given Du Plessis greater options at the backend of the innings.
“Every game KG has played he’s gotten better. I remember when he played his first T20, you could see he was still unsure of what he was trying to do. And the last game we played in India it was like he had 50/60 T20 internationals behind his name,” Du Plessis said of Rabada, who yesterday also completed a move to English county side Kent.
“The great thing about KG is that he is always asking questions. And as a captain you know that a player wants to improve. I am very happy where he is at. He has won a couple of one-day games for us at the death now. The exciting thing for me is we now have a group of seam bowlers that can all bowl death.
“That is something that we’ve probably not always had the luxury going into World Cups. It is great for me to have three or four bowlers that I can rely on.”
Over the course of the next five matches, which includes three against Australia, Du Plessis will definitely know who the men he can bank on to try and bring back that elusive piece of ICC silverware.
SQUADS FOR NEWLANDS
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.
England: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, David Willey, Chris Woakes, James Vince.
Start: 6pm, TV: SS2 and Sabc3, Radio: SabcRadio2000 - The StarWith the World Cup just around the corner both South Africa and England are looking for winning momentum.
Original source: No T20 rest for regulars