Opinion: Opportunity knocks at business end of Ram Slam T20 Challenge

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

With the Ram Slam T20 Challenge nearing its business end, it's high time we take stock of who is in line for a gig in the Proteas' Twenty20 International squad.

South Africa will next play the shortest format of the international game against India in February 2018, when matches in Johannesburg, Centurion and Cape Town will again allow the selectors to explore the country's depth.

While players like Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius have effectively drawn themselves from the fringes and into the core of the T20I plans, there are others who are still jostling for position.

Robbie Frylinck tasted T20I cricket against Bangladesh earlier this year and, while he didn't set the Ram Slam T20 Challenge alight, he deserves another chance based on consistency over a sustained period.

Reeza Hendricks simply has to partner Hashim Amla at the top of the order. Mangaliso Mosehle was the go-to opener in October, but Hendricks has forced his way back into the international fray on the back of a glut of runs for the Lions. Mosehle is the right choice when Quinton de Kock is not around, but the return of the first-choice wicketkeeper will sideline him for now.

Shadley van Schalkwyk should be one of a couple of new caps, if not the only one, when the selectors sit down to pick the squad. He has been right up there with the best domestic T20 bowlers for a couple of seasons - and has developed a clever slower ball out the back of the hand.

He does, admittedly, need to work on his approach during the closing overs, but specialist 'death' bowler Dane Paterson and head coach Ottis Gibson can help with that. The Indian batsmen won't hold back, so his ability and that of the others to cope with the pressure through overs 16 to 20 in particular needs to be on point all the time.

Christiaan Jonker is another one in contention. If the Proteas have moved on from Jon-Jon Smuts, they should afford his Warriors team-mate a go. Jonker has flirted with Indian Premier League and Caribbean Premier League participation, but never quite cracked the nod. Hopefully, he soon gains recognition on a local front.

With the Lions, Knights and Warriors out the equation, the Ram Slam T20 Challenge is down to its final three. The bulk of the aforementioned players will get a few more chances to knock at the door of the selectors. The Titans seemingly peaked too soon, while the timing of the Cobras' turnaround has been good. Fans and pundits alike would do well to back them for the title, if the Dolphins don't get there first.

The views expressed above are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Hollywoodbets.

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