Opinion: Is Philander the answer to SA's ODI all-rounder troubles?

Fielder throws cricket ball in

The Proteas have a rich history of match-winning all-rounders dating back to before unification and re-introduction into international cricket, but of late the Jacks of all trades haven't stepped up in ODI cricket.

Brian McMillan and Shaun Pollock are the archetypal Proteas bowling all-rounders, adept with the ball and capable of match-winning/saving innings with the bat, but among the current crop of players that x-factor appears to be absent.

The contest for bowling all-rounder slots in the Proteas ODI XI has been dominated by four names; Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius and Wiaan Mulder, with each achieving some success but is there someone Ottis Gibson is overlooking.

Vernon Philander's recent first-class century for the Cobras underlined his ability with the bat and his bowling quality is without question. Philander has not played ODI cricket since 2015 and was, for some time, the scapegoat for the 2015 World Cup semi-final defeat. Philander's presence in the side at the expense of Kyle Abbott as an alleged last-minute change to maintain transformation targets made him a target for Proteas fans' ire, despite the abject performance of Dale Steyn with the ball and Farhaan Behardien's crucial dropped catch.

Because of his Test commitments and workload management, Philander has played little List A cricket in the last three years, but his recent strong batting displays and undoubted skill with the ball should make him a candidate for the Proteas' 2019 campaign.

Morris has displayed glimpses of match-winning quality with the bat, but suffered from inconsistency with the ball, while Phehlukwayo has been brilliant as a death bowler as well as getting wickets in the middle overs, but his batting remains suspect. Pretorius is probably the best batsman in terms of consistency among the group, but his military medium might prove little more than fodder on the highways expected to be rolled out as World Cup pitches. Injury to Mulder has prevented Gibson from getting a good look at the youngster, who hasn't had too many chances to show off his batting, which is considered his great strength.

As good as the quartet are, their performances have by no means shut the door to the World Cup for other all-rounders - and all eyes will be on the domestic One-day Cup and the Mzansi Super League to see which all-rounders put their best foot forward.

Steyn's heroics with the bat against Zimbabwe could encourage the Proteas to play four specialist bowlers at the World Cup, putting further pressure on the number seven to make a contribution with the bat. It is in this area that Philander and his rivals need to stand up and show their mettle. Unless one of the group put their hand up, the smart money remains on Morris and Phehlukwayo to make the squad, but the Proteas would be foolish not to consider the experience of Philander.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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