With Russell Domingo acknowledging his future as Proteas coach is out of his hands‚ he knows the least he can do is hedge his bets on players who can come through for him. One is Quinton de Kock.
Having swept the stage at the Cricket SA awards on Saturday‚ the wicketkeeper/batsman has a point to prove, says Domingo.
Having had an underwhelming 2015 World Cup in Australia after his unexpectedly quick recovery from an ankle injury‚ June’s Champions Trophy is the perfect stage for De Kock to write himself into folklore.
"He’s had a fantastic year and he has something like 12 hundreds in 79 matches and that’s a fantastic return‚" Domingo said.
"But I know Quinton is desperate to do well in one of these ICC [International Cricket Council] events.
"He’ll be the first to admit that he didn’t do well in the previous 50-over World Cup and didn’t meet the expectations placed on him. He’s got a point to prove in these types of events."
Players being out of form should concern Domingo, but it does not.
While Hashim Amla had a welcome return to run-scoring with two hundreds for his Indian Premier League franchise, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers had indifferent sessions for Rising Pune Supergiants and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
With the Proteas known for not pitching up at ICC events‚ Domingo said his charges could have the perfect excuse for finding form when it really matters.
After all‚ the Proteas have to make up for their mortifying World Cup semifinal loss to New Zealand. Domingo could still apply the lessons from that Auckland thriller when they navigate India‚ Sri Lanka and Pakistan in their group.
"We can take a lot of comfort from the fact that in a lot of our bilateral series we’ve delivered in different conditions in different situations.
"We beat India at a packed Mumbai‚ we beat New Zealand at a noisy Auckland and we’ve beaten England at home in a must-win game at the end of a series. We can take comfort from how we went about winning those games and there are things we’ll need to employ in those games because we … did a lot of things correctly in those matches‚" Domingo said.
"We’ve learnt a lot from those matches and I know I’m going into a tournament at ease because the team has been under pressure [in] situations in the past year-and-a-half and they’ve come through."
The Proteas medical team is hoping to have Du Plessis ready for the opening match of the three ODIs against England at Headingly next Wednesday.
Du Plessis is the only player in the Proteas squad of 15 that left for England on Tuesday with an injury. Team doctor Mohammed Moosajee said DuPlessis had a "shoulder niggle".
Moosajee allayed fears over his fitness and said they had a plan to have Du Plessis ready for the first ODI.
"He has seen one of Cricket SA’s specialists in Cape Town and a plan is in place to have him ready for the first ODI.
"We are not sure about the warm-up games yet but we will assess [Du Plessis] when we get to the UK," Moosajee said.
Meanwhile, surgery on Dale Steyn’s shoulder had been a "resounding success", he said.
"The bone has healed but the challenge … is to get that shoulder stabilised‚ and that is the reason there is a delay in his coming back."