No Amplify licence installed, visit to order your licence.


The irresistible audacity of hope

While celebrating the performances of Proteas players in the IPL, Andile Ndlovu cautiously hopes they can replicate it when they get together for the International side over the next 36 months
Thu, Nov 19, 2020

Proteas superstar Kagiso Rabada. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons/ Naparazzi/ Flickr


Considering the year we have had to endure (so far), being excited about the next couple of years would be as preposterous as this unfolding Shepherd Bushiri saga. It's even more laughable if, like me, you tend to turn to sport for solace.

If you are a fan of South African cricket (or the current Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer), you know what it's like to live in hope rather than conviction – especially when we seem so adept at imploding (from boardroom-level to on the pitch).

Yet, when you look at the ICC calendar between now and 2023, you cannot help but allow yourself to dream – less about the power-hungry Cricket South Africa bigwigs stepping aside for the sake of our game, but of our senior men's team doing the unthinkable.

Between now and then, India (2021) and Australia (2022) are due to host back-to-back ICC Men's T20 World Cup tournaments – plus, the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup (2023) will wrap a hectic 36-month international schedule.

If the Test Championship standings inspire scant hope (we're only above Bangladesh after winning one of seven Test matches so far), then the limited overs' possibilities are endless.

You might find my cause for optimism bewildering, but sport was not created for pessimists. The recently completed Indian Premier League tournament, which was staged in the United Arab Emirates due to Covid-19, sent me dreaming again.

If speculation is to be believed, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis share desires to play in one more World Cup tournament. With those two, plus opener Quinton de Kock, the Proteas batting order would have three men who featured in the top 15 of the highest run scorers in the 2020 edition of this tournament. They also appear in the top 10 for the most 50s.

Throw in Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma, Heinrich Klaasen and (hopefully) an in-form David Miller, and you have options for a potentially destructive top 6.

As has so often been the case in recent years, the all-rounder position remains the main worry. Possibly, the most exciting aspect of the IPL 2020 edition was watching the duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje hunting for wickets for the Delhi Capitals.

The pair not only ranked first and fourth for the most wickets taken during the tournament (Rabada with 30 and Nortje with 22), but they did so with devastating pace and aggression that should worry the England team visiting for three T20 internationals and three ODIs between November 27-December 9. You would think Lungi Ngidi and Tabraiz Shamsi take the remaining spots.

Back in February this year, coach Mark Boucher was quoted as saying that "a couple of questions have been answered... and we are getting an idea of which positions are filled", in response to a question about his assessment of his squad ahead of the subsequently postponed T20 World Cup.

Then, his team had just lost the three T20i series to England (to follow the 2-1 loss to Australia in the same format) – but crucially, it was a group that didn't feature Du Plessis, Rabada, Nortje, or De Villiers.

Oh, it's the hope that kills.