South Africa has been rewarded for its consistency with a four-place jump to number two on the ICC T20 rankings following ts 2-0 series win over England in the T20 International series. The win also extended the team’s record over the last 12 months to eight wins from nine matches played. Proteas captain, Faf Du Plessis, says the squad’s consistency is a positive marker ahead of the ICC World T20 in India next month, which he feels South Africa will enter with a ‘well-balanced’ squad brimming with confidence: ‘I honestly don’t feel that we have a hole in our team. I don’t feel that there are any weak areas, I feel that we have a well-balanced squad of 15 players and the 11 that are playing at the moment are doing really well. What you look for from players as a captain is consistency and our consistency in T20 cricket over the last two years has been excellent. It’s great that we are winning. We will take a week off to rest, it has been a long series against England, then we will come back against Australia and still try to improve and gain some momentum leading up to the World Cup.’
The Proteas are hoping to welcome back Dale Steyn for the three-match series against Australia starting in Durban on March 4, with the speedster set to play in a club match in Cape Town on Saturday to test out his shoulder after nearly two months on the side lines. Du Plessis and the management will be pleased with the efforts from the bowling attack without Steyn’s experience, with Kyle Abbott and Kagiso Rabada leading from the front along with the masterful skill of man-of-the-series, Imran Tahir. Du Plessis says: ‘We learnt the lessons from the previous game. We didn’t start well in the previous game but today we were excellent. In the first three or four overs we set the tone beautifully with KG (Rabada) and Abbott. England played well along with some bad execution from our part, and to bring it back like we did, to go for six overs for 30-odd runs along with six wickets is unheard of in T20 cricket. It means a lot for us as a death bowling unit, it’s something that we have worked hard on and it’s something we pride ourselves on, having great options at the death. For me it’s about trying to improve as a team. We are getting better with the mistakes that we make and the areas that we want to get better at, and there is still a lot of improvement to come as a team. Today was a great finish with the ball but we were not as good as we could have been from overs 12 to 15. I look at the areas where we can still improve as a team.’
The Proteas will begin their preparations for the series against Australia in Durban on March 1.