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2022: The Next Chapter of South African Cricket

2022: The Next Chapter of South African Cricket. Ongama Gcwabe & Bet Central share four points to look out for in SA Cricket in 2022.  

South African Cricket Next Chapter

The Proteas have been through a difficult phase due to retirements, new players finding their feet in the team and an extended transition period since the 2019 World Cup. 2022 promises to be the year in which we turn the corner as the team looks more stable in terms of personnel for the first time since 2018. Ongama Gcwabe & Bet Central share four points to look out for in SA Cricket in 2022.  

The Proteas started 2022 with a Test match victory over the number one team in the world, India in Johannesburg. That victory was on the back of a big defeat at the hands of the same opposition in the Boxing Day Test at Centurion. In the second Test. South Africa wrapped up the Test in just four days with a crushing seven-wicket victory in which captain Dean Elgar and his vice Temba Bavuma saw the team to victory. 

This was not just another victory; it was a big moment for South African cricket as they looked to move past the dark cloud that has hung over South African cricket on and off the field for the past three to four years.  

Here’s what we can look out for in 2022

The New Test Team

The Proteas Test team have been through a difficult three years since the tour to India in 2019, a  tour in which we suffered a 3-0 series loss, two of those three defeats were innings’ losses. After that series, a few players lost their place in the Proteas Test side, those players include Theunis de  Bruyn, Dane Piedt to name a few. That’s how tough that 2019 tour was for the Proteas Test team. 

That series was followed by a 3-1 series loss at home to England. All this further showed the cracks in our system after the retirement of household names like Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and AB de  Villiers. Though we are not world-beaters yet, there’s a significant amount of progress the side has made, one that springs to mind is that of Anrich Nortje. Nortje made his Test debut during that 2019 tour to India and was knocked around the park by some of the world’s best batters in their own conditions, but since then Nortje has made an incredible amount of progress as a Test match fast bowler and as an international cricketer in general. 

Rassie van der Dussen is another prospect that has settled into international cricket reasonably smoothly. He has become a promising all-format player and has a clear role to play in the side as a batter. These are the little things that make this Proteas Test side exciting to see grow together in international cricket. They have the ingredients needed to succeed at the highest level and it is exciting to see them push to become who we all see them becoming in Test cricket.  

Temba Bavuma’s Captaincy

Bavuma was announced as captain of the shorter formats in March 2021 and his first major task was to lead an inexperienced T20I team to a T20 World Cup in November 2021. Bavuma himself had never been to a World Cup before, but in the midst of all the off-field dramas of SA cricket, including the Quinton de Kock’s ‘refusal to take a knee’ story, Bavuma handled the World Cup campaign with class and integrity. 

His leadership qualities brought the country together and brought some form of calm in the country’s cricketing community. His batting performance right after the T20 World Cup was a half-century against India in Centurion in a Boxing Day Test. If there’s an exciting prospect to look forward to this year, it has to be Temba Bavuma as a leader and a batter.

Youngsters Given Opportunities

Another interesting discussion is that of awarding deserving youngsters an opportunity in the Proteas. In 2021, we have seen the likes of Keegan Petersen getting a nod to feature in a Test XI for the first time since being with the Proteas Test team since England toured South Africa in 2019.  

Technically, Petersen looks as good as any great of the game and he has the temperament needed to succeed in Test match cricket. Petersen was making centuries for fun in Domestic cricket leading up to his Test call up, so his inclusion in the Test side is justified.  

This is the one thing I would like to see more of in 2022 and beyond, youngsters who have the numbers to back them, getting an opportunity to represent their country at the highest level. We have seen a lot of youngsters given opportunities; the likes of Kyle Verreynne, Zubayr Hamza, Daryn Dupavillon to name a few. 

This is an important part of the journey to becoming the Proteas we all know and love.  We found ourselves in a transition phase after the retirement of some big names in the Proteas setup and it looked bad because it was as if we did not prepare for it. Blooding deserving youngsters into international cricket helps create a wider pool of players, who are ready and who have a  respectable amount of game time in international, to pick from when needed.  

A team I feel has done this superbly over the years is India. One look at the bench strength of the Indian Cricket team (any format), you quickly realise that the players in the Indian bench could most probably walk into any XI in international cricket, they are that good. I am really looking forward to seeing the selectors going this route in 2022. 

Marco Jansen’s Rise to International Cricket

The first South African Test cricketer to be born in the 2000s is none other than Marco Jansen who recently made his international debut in the Boxing Day Test against India. On debut, Jansen took the wicket of Virat Kohli as his maiden Test wicket, if that isn’t a sign of a future star then I don’t know what is.  

At 21, up against the best batters in world cricket, Jansen showed very little nerves, in fact, the only time he showed signs of being overwhelmed was during the first innings of that first Test, but after that Jansen has shown little to no signs of self-doubt. He is an exciting youngster who believes in himself and his abilities. South Africa has had a few superstars recently, KG Rabada and Quinton de Kock are some of them, Jansen for me is more or less in that same calibre in terms of talent, big match temperament and skills.  

I am excited to see him grow alongside Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Nortje and Duanne Olivier. The four are promising to be a terrifying bowling unit for batters around the world.  

Stability in SA Cricket Admin

I think we can all agree that one of the most disappointing things about SA Cricket is the drama involving our administrators. We have had a lot of drama that led to personnel changes in Cricket South Africa that it is so hard to keep track of who is running the show. This year I am looking forward to having a year where the focus is the cricket and not the politics. This year I am looking forward to seeing our administrators show with actions, structures and programmes that they have the country’s cricket standard’s best interests at heart.

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