CAPE TOWN – South Africa’s grand old daddies of the Indian Premier League, Imran Tahir, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and the only ‘so old’ granddaddy, Chris Morris, are making a compelling case for inclusion in the Proteas T20 World Cup squad for later this year.
The T20 World Cup is scheduled for October and November in India and all four veterans in the past two months have shown that age hasn’t dulled their appetite and it certainly isn’t hampering their performance. They have been South Africa’s most influential players in the tournament.
The Proteas T20 outfit, minus the IPL players, limped to a home series defeat against Pakistan. A youthful Proteas team also lost in Pakistan.
A World Cup is supposedly a representation of the best players in one’s country and this quartet of silver foxes are still the best at what they do, be it with a bat or a ball. Their fielding is also as good as it has ever been, cue Du Plessis’s sensational catch a few days ago.
Du Plessis has been on fire this season. He has scored three successive half centuries and was five runs short of a first IPL century in an unbeaten 95. He also finished one run short of his best in the IPL.
What makes Du Plessis’ numbers so impressive this tournament is that he is batting at a strike rate of 140.62, compared to a career strike rate of 130.35, that his unbeaten half centuries have come at the top of the order and he has improved his tournament average to 67.5, whereas his IPL career average is 34.5.
Du Plessis’s fielding remains a strength and his experience and leadership in this format of the game will be invaluable to the Proteas’ attempt to win the T20 World Cup.
Tahir, a teammate of Du Plessis’ at the Chennai Super Kings, is 42 years old. He has played in one match out of a possible six and was superb, taking 2/16 in four overs, which gives him the leading economy and strike rate in the tournament. The only question is why he has not played in more matches. He could comfortably play in the World Cup and be a differentiator.
Morris, the highest paid player in this year’s IPL, has produced explosive match-winning cameos to justify the millions Rajasthan Royals paid for his services. Morris, when called upon with the bat, has delivered at a strike rate of 154 and his 11 wickets in six matches have come at a strike rate of 17.72 and an economy rate of 8.86.
Morris turned 34 on April 30 but is another not slowed down by age.
T20 cricket is a numbers game. Strike rates rule for batsman and while strike rates are a bonus for bowlers, the most telling statistic for bowlers is the economy rate. In both aspects, South Africa’s Proteas quartet of granddads are thriving in the 2021 edition of the IPL.
None has been more impressive than the global superstar of the IPL, our very own De Villiers.
De Villiers, in 2021, has scored 204 runs at an average of 68 and a strike rate of 174.35 for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. He has passed 5 000 IPL career runs, doing so in his 175th match and 161st innings. He also struck his 406th four and increased his sixes to 245.
He has now faced 3 309 balls in the IPL and has an IPL career average of 40.01, a career strike rate of 152.70, 40 half centuries and three big hundreds.
Mark Boucher’s World Cup Proteas, sure to include Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock and David Miller, would certainly be contenders with the ageing quartet.
Currently, they are just youthful pretenders who got pummelled against Pakistan.