South Africa may be willing to bench their most experienced bowler, Morne Morkel, in the Champions Trophy, in favor of an allrounder and a shorter tail. Morkel, who was included in the squad despite not having played an ODI since June 2016, made his comeback on Monday, and bowled four overs at first change without taking any wickets.
Although coach Russell Domingo was pleased to have the seamer back, he admitted there may not always be room for him. "It's a catch-22 situation because having Morne there might strengthen our bowling, it gives us more of a tail not having the three allrounders," Domingo said. "It's his first one-day international for a while and it's good to have him back. He's had a long-term injury layoff, and the bowlers that have played in his place have done really well."
The game Morkel played in was the only one that South Africa could win in the series against England, though he cannot claim to be the reason for their success. It was Kagiso Rabada, the new No. 1-ranked bowler in ODIs, and Wayne Parnell who reduced England to 20 for 6 in five overs. They appear to be the first-choice new-ball pair.
Parnell has been the most successful partner to Rabada in the 13 ODIs played after Kyle Abbott's international retirement, effectively pushing other options down the queue. Those include Chris Morris, Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo - all big-hitting allrounders, who South Africa hope can add late runs on pitches that are expected to produce big totals. England batted first on such surfaces in the first two ODIs and put up 339 and 330.
Domingo expects conditions to be batting-friendly in the Champions Trophy as well because that suits the hosts' current style of play. "That's the way England bat at times - if there is something in the wicket, and you land the ball in the right areas and they nick the ball, you've got a chance against them because they play that expansive brand of cricket. On flatter wickets, they're going to be hell of a dangerous," he said. "But the bowlers will always have a chance against them when there's something in the wicket because of the way they're going about their batting at the moment."
South Africa will not meet England in the group stage of the Champions Trophy, where they are pooled with Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan, but could come up against them in the knockouts, where England will hold the psychological advantage having won the series 2-1. Still, South Africa were pleased with their preparation leading into their opening game against Sri Lanka at the Oval on Saturday. "There were a lot of benefits and positives that we can take forward into the Champions Trophy so we're pretty happy with the way things have panned out for us," Domingo said.