One of the finalists should be…

South Africa

Coming to the World Cup, watching all those who have played in the last 2 years, there are some big names missing. It is very sad to learn South African cricket still suffers out of differences based on colour of skin. In the end, it could have easily altered 3 to 4 names. In India, the differences are based on so many different factors. But with the Indian squad, considering the abilities and form of all of whom we have seen over the last four years, there may have been one or may be two different names.

Mark Boucher is arguably the best keeper batsman after Sangakkara. Haddin is brilliant and Brendon McCullum has terrific ability. Boucher has been through overs 35 to 50 on so many occasions and he’s played a lot of cricket in India. De Villiers is a risk South Africa is taking. Whether it is worth it, Geoffrey Boycott and I do not know. You’ll argue this is a fresh idea. Probably a fresh idea to come out of depressing World cup defeats in the past. I would have happily had AB in the covers with Boucher behind the stumps. This squad had been groomed for the World Cup. Colin Ingram could be a better bet at No.7 but AB is too precious for South Africa to be overloaded like this. Boucher may come back after the World cup but it is so sad and unfair on such a solid servant of South African cricket, missing having a go at the big prize.  Morne Van Wyk is a mere stand by for AB.

Loots Bosman is more of a T20 player. Gibbs’s form has dipped steadily and Amla has been amazingly consistent. Neil McKenzie is far from the form Amla has displayed. To me, he was a contender but yes, far away from Amla. The biggest fight for Amla’s place comes from Alviro Peterson. Both would play similar roles to what Trott and Gambhir would do to England and India. With Morne Van Wyk in the squad, Peterson misses out.

There was one series of games, sometime in the last one year, where Kallis played aggressively and proved to be very effective. That was following a period where he was in bad batting form. I don’t remember when that happened. Generally Kallis is expected to play the anchor with Duminy and De Villiers providing the boundary shots. With Amla certain to open with Smith, Kallis can continue to attack from one end. Amla and AB can do the maneuvering. I know all this changes with each opposition and each game but this should be plan A. Without preparation, things can go haywire.

Du Plessis and Colin Ingram make 6 and 7. Du Plessis looks like a big prospect. Albie Morkel has fallen behind Ingram. With so many pace bowling options, they’ve chosen to go for someone with better all round batting skills. That does make sense.

Johan Botha looks a certainty. I will forever hate any bowler who creates the slightest doubt in my mind about a clean bowling action and I hate Johan Botha. If he’s going to be captain of the South African side after the World Cup, with the number of games he’s played for the country, just because he’s got a strong enough mind to have come out of examinations of his bowling action, that is very very very sad.

Where the hell is van der Merwe?? Why don’t they try Paul Harris in limited over games? He’s bowling real tight in tests. Imran Tahir and Robin Peterson are the other spinners in the squad. Tahir picked up three wickets in the practice game against Zimbabwe and looks more likely to play ahead of Robin Peterson. The latter is just another ordinary left arm spinner, at the international level. I think Paul Harris needs to be tried in one day games. He’s surely their best spinner right now.

I would shut the doors for Johan Botha and groom van der Merwe for that spot although he needs to organize his batting better for the 50 over format.

 

What do I say of Dale Steyn?? Brett Lee has lost a lot of steam. Asif and Aameer were fantastic bowlers, but bowlers they were, not gentlemen cricketers. James Anderson is peaking right now and only Kemar Roach belongs to this league today. Out of Roach, Steyn and Anderson, Steyn has to be the best. The way he is steaming in, Muralitharan’s test tally could be embarrassed by a fast bowler!

Morne Morkel along with Dale Steyn is like Sachin Tendulkar following Rahul Dravid in the Indian test line up. Langeveldt is not growing younger nor do I know if he’s fit and playing. I still remember him as a genuine fast bowler. The fellow got shot in his forehead and to survive that and play international cricket for a good amount of time needs character. Wayne Parnell is an attacking option. I am very impressed with the smoothness of his run up and action. He bowls at a very lively pace and constantly looks dangerous. Tsotsobe has been in good form of late. He’s not in the same class as that of Parnell but SA are looking at Tsotsobe as a good containing option behind Morkel and Steyn. With Tahir very likely to play, four pacers are never going to play together. I don’t think I need to discuss Ryan Mclaren in front of these four.

Yours truly firmly believes South Africa are going to be playing at the Wankhede on the 2nd of April, 2011.

Cheers.

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