What's a pace attack without Steyn and co.?

Blog Opinion

South Africa's ODI squad is in Zimbabwe without the services of their three premier pacemen, with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander taking a break from the action to give the youngsters a go.

South Africa's ODI squad is in Zimbabwe without the services of their three premier pacemen, with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander taking a break from the action to give the youngsters a go.

They have three matches in which to impress coach Russell Domingo, with only two of the five fast bowlers in the squad able to claim much international experience. Let's have a look at the quintet.

<b>Marchant de Lange</b><br><b>ODI Caps:</b> 1<br><b>Best one-day figures:</b> 5/64 (List A)<br><b>Mug with the bat?</b> Kind of… He's not great with the bat but averages more than 10 in all domestic formats. His overall top score is 35.

Sheesh, this kid. Every time there's been a gap in the South Africa bowling attack in the past two years, at least one Twitter fan will ask, "Where is Marchant? Is he still injured?" The answer has usually been yes. He made his international debut in 2012, taking nine wickets on debut, but soon afterwards fell off the map thanks to his temperamental body. Injury after injury has prevented his international return, so this is exciting for the fans. He is very fast, and at nearly 24 is a great prospect if he can stay fit.

<b>Mthokozisi Shezi</b><br><b>ODI Caps:</b> 0<br><b>Best one-day figures:</b> 6/42 (List A)<br><b>Mug with the bat?</b> Yes. He has a First Class half century, but averages under 10 in all domestic formats. He's scored just 64 runs in 37 List A matches, so, you know, hardly Lance Klusener. Still, he adorably told <i>Cricket365</i>: "I love batting. If people know me, they will tell you the truth that I love batting. I might love batting more than bowling."

Shezi is better described as medium-fast rather than pure pace, but he has variations up the wazoo and was in impressive form for South Africa A on their recent tour to Australia. He took six wickets in his most recent outing Down Under, his best ever figures. He was a Dolphins player for much of his career, but recently made a switch to the Cobras in Cape Town in order to get more time on the park.

<b>Kyle Abbott</b><br><b>ODI Caps:</b> 2<br><b>Best one-day figures:</b> 4/36 (List A)<br><b>Mug with the bat?</b> No. He has four First Class half centuries and averages over 20 in the longer format.

Abbott, another Kwa-Zulu Natal product, burst onto the scene in February 2013 when he made his Test debut against Pakistan in South Africa. He took seven wickets for 29 runs in his first international innings, but has only played one Test since, taking three wickets against the Aussies earlier this year. The longest format is his best, with his First Class average under 22, but he's not a slouch at one-dayers either, taking 77 wickets in 59 games. He's the control bowler though, the one you rely on to keep things tight. He comes into the series on the back of a successful County stint with Hampshire.

<b>Wayne Parnell</b><br><b>ODI Caps:</b> 34<br><b>Best one-day figures:</b> 6/51 (List A)<br><b>Mug with the bat?</b> Nope. He's an all-rounder, averaging 34 in T20 internationals, and just over 21 in ODIs. He's erratic though.

Parnell is the Jade Dernbach of the team, both in terms of off-field dress sense and the ability to make you want to either shout for joy or bash your head against a desk. He can be brilliant or horrific depending on the day, balancing wicket flurries with watching the ball sail over his head for repeat sixes. His ODI economy rate is nearly six. There's a reason he's only got four Test caps. There are few cricketers as frustrating for Proteas fans as this IPL favourite.

<b>Ryan McLaren</b><br><b>ODI Caps:</b> 43<br><b>Best one-day figures:</b> 5/38 (List A)<br><b>Mug with the bat?</b> Hardly. He's been unfairly touted as the answer to Jacques Kallis' retirement, which isn't even remotely gonna happen, but he's not bad with the bat. He's more reliable than Parnell as far as all-rounders go, and has a top ODI score of 71 not out.

McLaren is the most experienced of the touring pacemen, and will be valuable when it comes to keeping the Zimbabwe batsmen in line. He's dependable and middle of the road, most of the time, but can surprise with a four-fer here and there. He is a regular pick in the Proteas side because of this solidity, and Domingo will be looking to him to lead the attack. His most recent efforts, against Sri Lanka, saw him take nine wickets in three games.

*Beuran Hendricks was in the squad but was ruled out through injury before they left for Bulawayo.

<b>Lindsay du Plessis</b>