South Africa: Phehlukwayo Provides Proteas Hope for 2019, 2023 and Beyond

(file photo).

London — South Africa's Cricket World Cup campaign was built on its fast bowling threat.

'Plan A', as it has since become known, was to field the pace trio of Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi with Imran Tahir operating as the specialist spinner.

In that attack, all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo would operate as the fourth seamer while the likes of Aiden Markram or JP Duminy could also chip in with a few overs if needed.

Plan A, as we all know, never got off the ground.

Steyn returned home injured without bowling a ball at the tournament while Ngidi has been missing with a hamstring strain since South Africa's second game of the tournament against Bangladesh.

It has left the South Africans scrambling and only now, five games in, do they have some consistency in their line-up.

Much of that has to do with Phehlukwayo, who has stepped up as one of the few shining lights for the Proteas in what has been their worst ever start to a World Cup.

He may only be 23, but Phehlukwayo has quietly gone about notching up 48 ODIs for his country, and a look at how he has gone in England helps reveal why he is rated so highly by skipper Faf du Plessis and the rest of the leadership group.

His 1/44 (8) against England in the tournament opener made him the most economical of South Africa's front-line bowlers on that day, while he recorded figures of 2/52 (10) in a losing cause against Bangladesh.

He removed Indian skipper Virat Kohli at the Rose Bowl to finish with 1/40 (8.3) , and he was a class apart against Afghanistan in Cardiff on Saturday, claiming 2/18 (8) .

When he speaks to the media, Phehlukwayo always wears a smile on his face and you get the sense that he is still awe-struck by being where he is at such a young age.

It doesn't translate on the field, however, and on Saturday Du Plessis agreed that Phehlukwayo had been his most consistent player at the tournament so far.

Results have not been going South Africa's way and even four wins from their remaining four fixtures might not be enough to qualify for the semi-finals, but in Phehlukwayo they do at least have one success story.

It might not make a difference this year, but the fact the Phehlukwayo is impressing on the biggest stage now bodes well for the future.

With the likes of Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, JP Duminy and Dale Steyn all not expected to play ODI cricket beyond this World Cup and with Du Plessis, Chris Morris, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller all over 30, South Africa's future faces a test of depth in the years to come.

Phehlukwayo is exactly the type of player who suggests that, even without the above-mentioned stalwarts, South African cricket will remain strong in the years to come.

When one factors in that Quinton de Kock, Rabada, Ngidi and Markram will all be in their prime at the 2023 World Cup (in India), then Phehlukwayo's role as the experienced all-rounder in that group is looking like one box ticked as the Proteas plot the way forward beyond 2019.

What makes Phehlukwayo so valuable with the ball is his ability to be flexible depending on the conditions.

He offers variations of cutters on wickets which are a touch slower or too flat for his natural pace, while on greener strips he can present the seam and generate movement in a more traditional fashion.

"I've tried to put a lot of pressure on myself at training," Phehlukwayo told media in Cardiff on Saturday before explaining his extra yard of pace against Afghanistan.

"I've been working on trying to hit the deck harder on a fuller length with Ottis, and it's working for now.

"I used to be quicker when I was younger and with losing a tad bit of pace I had to try adjust. If you don't have express pace you need to develop something else in your amour to deceive the batsman."

While he has been superb with the ball, Phehlukwayo knows that he needs to contribute with the bat too.

Scores of 24, 8, 34 and 17* have been promising.

"I feel like I'm not far away," Phehlukwayo said.

"I've been hitting the ball really well and moving well in the nets and I am happy with how my preparation is going."

Phehlukwayo may be a success story individually, but this is obviously not the time to think too far ahead.

South Africa must focus on the 'now' and as long as there is a chance of making the semi-finals, then that is where their heads must be.

The Proteas are next in action when they take on New Zealand at Edgbaston on Wednesday at 11:30.

@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...

Source: Sport24

More From: News24Wire

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 600 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.