Hammered by Pakistan and a poor cricketing summer behind them, the Proteas are one step away from the T20 World Cup in India.
Ahead of the tournament, scheduled for October-November later this year, coach Mark Boucher will have one final look at his squad before deciding wie ry of wie bly when the time comes.
That opportunity will come in the form of a trip to Ireland in July for three T20Is.
Ireland? How is that going to help?
I wondered about it too, but I’m going to try and be positive about things and hope that the famous luck of the Irish rubs off on us while the manne are there.
First off, after such a cruel summer, perhaps Ireland will be a pick-me-up for the team and boost confidence.
Not to underestimate the Irish, but let’s be honest: if the Proteas don’t go and whitewash these Paddys, then we’ll be setting ourselves up for another nightmare World Cup showing – like in 2019.
That preparation will be key after most of our first-choice players got a raw deal this summer.
England pulled out of their tour in December after a false positive Covid-19 test and Australia just couldn’t be bothered to come over.
With those cowardly calls, we lost the chance to blast off the lockdown cobwebs against England.
And against Australia, our manne could have strengthened their much-needed resolve ahead of a major tournament.
The double Pakistan series – home and away – served its purpose.
We all got a good look at what we have in the locker with the Indian Premier League-contracted players unavailable.
Having also lost skipper Temba Bavuma to injury, the second-string manne did an alright-e job and we’ll take a look at the batting options first.
Aiden Markram showed his talent with three 50s in a row, bringing some much-needed consistency to his game, and Janneman Malan didn’t do a bad job at the top of the order.
Cape Cobras allrounder George Linde took huge strides to making his way into the Proteas setup.
His bowling will be a big plus to the attack, bringing in awkward bounce and variation in the subcontinental conditions.
And his batting has been something to get fans excited about.
With his ability to clear the boundary, he could come into the game at any time to give the innings a boost. He is a must.
It’s a pity we didn’t see more of Linde’s Newlands teammate, Kyle Verryenne.
With Heinrich Klaasen leading the side in Bavuma’s absence, the wicketkeeper-batsman didn’t get the chance his talent and domestic form demanded.
But it’s clear to see that he could have made it into the side purely as a middle-order batter and would have been a better option than Pite van Biljon, who was weggesteek in Wednesday’s third T20.
With SA looking to build on their big start at Centurion, Verryenne would definitely have been tossed into the fray.
No disrespect to Klaasen, but once the regular team leaders join after their IPL detour, Verryenne should come in as backup for Quinton de Kock.
With the Proteas’ pace attack all busy at the IPL, the Pakistan series was a chance for someone to put their hand up.
However, showing up Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje is a huge ask and I don’t think our seamers enhanced their reputations.
Sisanda Magala couldn’t follow up the form that got him his chance, while Beuran Hendricks has just not made the step up after all these years.
Perhaps they will get one more kans in Ireland.
But that is only if veteran allrounder Chris Morris doesn’t prove why he is the record-signing in IPL history or youngster Marco Jansen doesn’t build on his great start in India.
At 20, the lanky Jansen has the world at his feet.
A left-arm quick would be a great addition to the attack. And he can bat too. So what’s not to like?
He has a moerse future ahead of him, by all indications – three First-Class fifties and 71 T20 runs in eight innings, plus 78 wickets in 39 senior matches.
While pace is so often SA’s most trusted weapon, spin could be the key in Indian conditions.
Tabraiz Shamsi is rated the best T20I bowler in the world and is sure to be headed to the World Cup.
Linde should join him.
Veteran spinner Imran Tahir has said that he wants one last hurrah when the World Cup comes around and Keshav Maharaj is more than handy.
But Maharaj’s Dolphins spin duo of Senuran Muthusamy and Prenelan Subrayen made their stemme dik over the domestic season and could come into the reckoning.
There are some capable manne to look at before going to Ireland.
Let’s hope selectors’ boss Victor Mpitsang shows a bit more bravery and out-of-the-box thinking with all the clarity of some hindsight and his options available to him now.