TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
THE format is different and the standards will be, too. But will SA, Australian and West Indian players in the Indian Premier League (IPL) have an advantage in the triangular one-day series their national teams will contest in the Caribbean next month?
“The fact that they’ve been active will help; they will not be rusty,” former SA batsman Boeta Dippenaar said on Monday. “Going into a tournament like that straight from a winter programme is the big challenge for any coach.”
West Indian pitches are similar in pace to India’s, although less responsive to spin bowling. Might that also serve IPL players well?
“These days international players are exposed to so many varieties of conditions that you would expect them to be able to adapt when needed,” Dippenaar said. “Information is the touch of a button away.”
Of SA’s squad of 15 only Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada and Rilee Rossouw are not dashing about India.
They should not have too many cobwebs to brush away. Parnell and Rossouw last played at franchise or international level in April, and Phangiso and Rabada in March.
Faf du Plessis was at the IPL but has been sidelined since April 26 with a broken finger that has ruled him out SA’s first match of the tournament, against the Windies in Guyana next Friday. He has used the downtime to holiday in the US with his wife, Imari.
Four Australians will also come in from the cold to go the Caribbean. Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and Matthew Wade were last in action in March, but Mitchell Starc will return from an ankle injury that has kept him off the field since November.
The situation is reversed for the home side, not least because of the free agency that has taken hold in the Caribbean to deny the maroons the services of several of their top players.
Jason Holder, Carlos Brathwaite, Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard are the only members of West Indies’ triseries squad who are playing in the IPL.
Not counting the injured Samuel Badree, six players who were part of the Windies’ triumph in the World T20 in April will be missing next month. Among them are key figures Darren Sammy, Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle.
That, and SA’s track record, prompted Dippenaar to predict a SA-Australia final in Barbados on June 26.
“We’ve all come to learn that this type of series is where SA do well,” he said. “But when we are in an International Cricket Council event we don’t seem to do as well. I don’t expect it to be any different this time.”