The Proteas’ T20 middle order will use AB de Villiers’ absence as a positive, as they prepare for the first KFC International T20 against New Zealand at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Friday. De Villiers withdrew from the squad on Monday, however Farhaan Behardien -one of the more established batsmen in the line-up - feels it will be an opportunity for the rest of the players to prove themselves.
“It’s definitely an opportunity for the guys to showcase their talent and what they have learnt over the past few years, “ Behardien said in Durban on Tuesday. “David Miller played a T20 County stint at Yorkshire and did really well, so he has learnt his trade a little bit more since his debut a few years ago.
“Faf (du Plessis) is in good form, even though it was in a Test match; he seems to be in a good space with his batting; he scored 65 in his last T20 innings against India in Sri Lanka.
“And myself, I’m there to assess the risk and to assess what the team needs going forward in the innings. David Miller and Justin Ontong are guys that have proven that they can hit the ball far, Faf has proven that he can hit the ball far as well.
“But without AB there, it is our opportunity to show Russell (Domingo) and Gary (Kirsten) that we can step it up in an International series and that there are resources in the country.”
One of those valuable resources is Robin Peterson, the most experienced T20 player in the current squad. The absence of some of the senior players due to the selectors’ rotation brings more responsibility to Peterson’s plate, a role he hopes will aid the younger players.
Peterson has also worked closely with the incumbent coach Russell Domingo, a relationship going back since his youth years with Eastern Province U19, and he believes the change in leadership will be re-energising for the format.
“Russell has done quite a bit behind the scenes, I don’t think it will be a big difference for him or for us,” Peterson said. “He has worked a lot with the younger players in the past as the SA A and Academy coach, so I don’t think it will be a massive issue. He had a good T20 record with the Warriors and he brings a lot of different fresh ideas to the table which is exciting for South African cricket.”