SA vs India, ODIs… not “meaningless”

There appears to be an increasing understanding that bilateral series have a limited life-span, at least as far as the cricket watching public is concerned. The elite Test series are, for the moment, exempt from the ‘ennui’ the public feel about much of the international game. South Africa’s Test series against India was a glorious exception to the norm. Even the Ashes was a turn-off because of the one-sided nature of the series.

Despite the asserions of Faf du Plessis that he has never, personally been involved in a “long-term planning scenario,” South African teams and squads have done so for over two decades ahead of ICC events.

In 1998, before the World Cup South Africa REALLY should have won, coach Bob Woolmer’s strategy had been laid out 18-months earlier: “We want a squad of players with a minimum of 30 caps each, at least half of which must have been earned in conditions similar to those in which they will play the tournament.”

He had the expertise and experience to know what he was talking about. There were also more fixtures in those days. Seemingly random tournaments were welcomed back then. They didn’t seem so random.
Current national selection convenor, Linda Zondi, says he “would love more fixtures” before the 2019 World Cup but that obviously can’t happen. He probably has no more than 20 before the World Cup to select his squad. Which is why Faf said before the India series that “results are important but so is the future.”

Can new players really do enough in three of four games to prove their ability for the World Cup in England? Will one failure at a crucial stage of an ODI against India seal their fate? Or one match-winning moment? Obviously it will. Maybe that is the way to go. Crunch time, go big and go to the World Cup, fail and stay at home.

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