25 March 2019

South Africa: Pretorius' Final Push At World Cup Squad His Biggest

Cape Town — Dwaine Pretorius has done all he can, and now he will sit back and "hope for the best" as the Proteas selectors decide on their 15-man squad for this year's World Cup in England.

There will be no further international cricket between now and April 18 when that squad is expected to be announced, but Pretorius has ensured that he will form part of whatever conversations take place during that time.

His blistering 77* (42b, 7x4, 3x6) in the third and final T20I against Sri Lanka in Johannesburg on Sunday was the perfect message to Proteas management.

Skipper Faf du Plessis has said all along that the specialist allrounder in England needs to be a batting allrounder, and the skipper has often used the measure of a 70/30 split in that regard.

His opportunities with the bat have been limited at international level, but Pretorius has suggested at domestic level that he could fit the desired mould.

On Sunday, though, he proved that he can get the job done in Proteas colours too.

Pretorius was promoted to No 3 in the South African batting line-up not as a pinch-hitter, but because Du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson wanted to get a decent look at him.

With the score at 37/1 and with 14 overs left in the innings, Pretorius had his opportunity and he took it.

In the race for World Cup places, Pretorius has simply never gone away, and this knock showed precisely why he is rated so highly.

Yes, this was a tired Sri Lankan attack that possibly had one foot on the plane back home already, but that would not have mattered to the 29-year-old Pretorius.

Given the developments of the South African summer, it seems almost certain that the two allrounder slots for the World Cup will go to Andile Phehlukwayo and Pretorius.

Chris Morris has an almost cult-like following in South Africa, but he seems to be well and truly out of favour when it comes to 50-over cricket.

Pretorius, through making the most of what little chances he has had, looks to have forced his way through the door.

"As a player you need to give yourself the best opportunity to show what you have and what you can do in those situations," he said of his possible World Cup inclusion after Sunday's man-of-the-match performance.

"I don't know what's going to happen with the team, when it is getting announced or anything ... it is out of my hands now. International cricket is done now and all we do now is hope for the best.

"As a player you obviously back yourself and think you can play there. It's something I never stopped believing.

"I worked hard on my mindset this season. It's not about what the other guys do, it's about what I can control and what I can do, and I think I've done that much better this season. I'm just worried about my game and playing my way, and hopefully that is what the selectors are looking for."

The South African plan leading up to the World Cup was clear: four specialist bowlers, one allrounder and six specialist batsmen.

Injuries to the likes of Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje as well as concerns over batting depth and Phehlukwayo at No 7 are slowly re-shaping that conversation, though.

There may now be a case for fielding both Pretorius and Phehlukwayo on the same matchday 11.

While he is far from express pace, Pretorius believes he could still trouble batsmen with his nagging length.

"The ball nips in England and that is where I'm at my best," he said.

"I don't bowl at 140 kph, but from 125 - 130 kph, but I'm hitting that length and line most of the time.

"If I can do that then I should be in the game, but let's get there first."

Source: Sport24

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