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June 21, 2007
South Africa kick off a hectic period of international cricket with a series of ODIs against Ireland and India and Mickey Arthur, their coach, highlighting the importance of Dale Steyn and a varied attack to future plans.
South Africa, who arrive Thursday and play Ireland on Sunday before three ODIs against India, left Steyn out of their World Cup squad, a move that in hindsight was exposed by the lack of variety in their one-paced attack. "Dale Steyn's return is huge for us. We saw how important pace is at the World Cup and Shaun Tait and Lasith Malinga were probably the two most destructive bowlers there. Dale has the ability to do what they did and his return has added greater depth and variety to our attack," Arthur said.
Arthur also said the role of Thandi Tshabalala, the off-spinner, will be important. South Africa have struggled to produce a quality spinner of any kind since their return to international cricket in 1991 and Tshabalala's absence from the Caribbean also irked some. "We need a spin bowler who can play a crucial role in the attack and bowl 10 overs a game," Arthur said. Johan Botha and Robin Peterson, he added, were still in options.
But Arthur is looking beyond even this season and to the next, when South Africa take on England in England and play home and away against Australia. Ireland and this season is merely the beginning. "We're playing England in England and then two series against Australia and, as a team, we've assessed that those are series we can leave our mark on, leave as our legacy. But we don't want guys making their debuts in series like that, so there needs to be succession planning in key areas.
"We need a pool of players who can play at that level and the only way to get that is by giving guys opportunities.
"Shaun Pollock has given us yeoman service, but he needs to be managed, and Vernon Philander has been identified as one of his back-ups, along with Albie Morkel, who played in the Afro-Asia Cup and Ryan McLaren and Johan van der Wath, who I've been keeping an eye on in county cricket," Arthur said.
"Albie has had a chance in the series between Africa and Asia and Vernon will now have his in Ireland."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.