Not much international cricket awaits the Proteas before the team plays in its first World Cup match against Sri Lanka on 7 October.
The South Africans will play five one-day cricket matches against the visiting Australians in September, but they will have to pack their bags for the international spectacle in India almost immediately after the conclusion of the series.
To quickly put things into perspective: The World Cup starts in just 80 days for Temba Bavuma.
Fortunately, some of the Protea stars also get a chance to hone their skills at the Major League Cricket tournament (MLC) in the USA.
Rilee Rossouw, Dewald Brevis, Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock, Heinrich Klaasen, Wayne Parnell, David Miller, Faf du Plessis, Gerald Coetzee, Marco Jansen and Anrich Nortjé play for teams such as the Los Angeles Knight Riders, the Seattle Orcas and the San Francisco Unicorns.
Yes, it is admittedly T20 cricket, but at least the players involved get a valuable opportunity to bat and bowl in a match situation.
Rabada and Coetzee are currently among the leading bowlers, while Klaasen and Miller have recently hit some quick fifties for their teams.
Du Plessis (22 runs at an average of 7.33) and De Kock (17 runs at an average of 8.50) have not yet caught fire with the willow bat, while Nortjé (one wicket at an average of 74) has also has not yet been able to put his usual stamp on a match.
Coach Rob Walter said earlier that they are still working hard behind the scenes to get the Proteas match-ready for the international knock-out tournament.
At the same time, the Indian Premier League has ensured that overseas players have become more familiar with Indian conditions and Miller, along with De Kock and Nortjé, have produced cracking performances in the past.
However, in the latest tournament, the 39-year-old Du Plessis stole the spotlight.
He scored the second most runs (730 in 14 innings, against Shubman Gill’s 890 in 17 attempts), while sending the ball over the boundary rope 36 times.
This is the most sixes of all the batsmen.
Then he scored 939 runs along with Virat Kohli; a feat only matched by AB de Villiers and Kohli in 2016.
According to Dinesh Karthik, the Protea management should not wait for the next T20 World Cup to make Du Plessis part of the national set-up again – after all, the upcoming World Cup in India (over 50 overs) offers a golden opportunity.
“Faf’s excellent level of play did not surprise me at all. He is an incredible cricketer and for the last five years he has been the consistency in itself in the IPL. In fact, he was even better this year than in the previous tournaments,” said the Indian player in an episode of The ICC Review.
“I think South Africa will miss out if they don’t take him to the World Cup together now. I think he is ready. He is someone who can make a difference – as a batsman and as a leader.”
Proteas’ World Cup fixtures:
7 October 2023: South Africa vs Sri Lanka
13 October 2023: South Africa v Australia
17 October 2023: South Africa v Netherlands
21 October 2023: South Africa v England
24 October 2023: South Africa vs Bangladesh
27 October 2023: South Africa vs Pakistan
1 November 2023: South Africa v New Zealand
5 November 2023: South Africa vs India
10 November 2023: South Africa v Afghanistan
ICC ODI Rankings:
- Australia: 118 points
- Pakistan: 116 points
- India: 115 points
- New Zealand: 104 points
- England: 101 points
- South Africa: 101 points
- Bangladesh: 93 points
- Afghanistan: 91 points
- Sri Lanka: 87 points
- West Indies: 66 points.