A style of play, rather than the styles of individual players, could become the defining feature of cricket in an increasingly full schedule and the upcoming ODIs between South Africa and New Zealand could be a case study. Both teams are missing senior members but do not envisage that will change their overall strategy in the series.
"Around the world you are seeing guys either rested or injured or what have you. I think every team is looking to expand their squad," Hashim Amla said. "These type of things are really healthy, especially building up to the Champions Trophy in two years' time and the World Cup in four years' time. There's probably no better time to have a look at your depth than now."
Experimenting with several players who are not part of the regular squad can change the composition of a team but, with "brands," of cricket becoming the new buzzword, it should not change the way they play.
South Africa, for example, could be without both Faf du Plessis, who is nursing an injury, and JP Duminy, who is on paternity leave, in this series. This robs the middle order of two of its most resolute players. In their places would come Rilee Rossouw and Farhaan Behardien, neither of whom have shown the patience or maturity du Plessis and Duminy are known for. That isn't entirely their fault because Rossouw and Behardien are far less experienced at international level than the men they are replacing. That will change with time. In the interim, they can work towards it with the knowledge that the rest of the line-up will provide the aggression they may feel obliged to display.
"The brand of ODI cricket we play is a mixture of attacking with an element of measure," Amla explained. "We can attack, but when the need is to be a bit more circumspect - to build the game up to an attacking position - we have the ability to do that." Solid starts, steady middle periods and flourishes towards the end are what South Africa are after.
Contrastingly, New Zealand like to start quickly and have been able to thanks to Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill. McCullum has been given time off for this series so Tom Latham will open the batting and has already indicated he will emulate McCullum by "playing with that aggressive nature."
McCullum actually has to be replaced in two places, because he is also the captain, but Latham said the transition of the stand-in skipper, Kane Williamson has been smooth. "He has done a fantastic job. He has got a great head on his shoulders and he thinks a lot about the games. He has taken a little of Brendon's captaincy and he has his own twist on it," Latham said. "We are playing the same brand of cricket that we have been over the last couple of years so there hasn't been too much change and not making too many changes has helped a lot."
Keeping the same style of play and seeing which players best fit into it is actually how teams are developing depth and New Zealand hope it will create a steady stream of cricketers ready to step up to international level. "If we can do well here then its good for New Zealand cricket in terms of depth and then if players get injured or retire, then people are waiting to come in and fill their shoes," Latham said.
South Africa are still grappling with having not adequately done that especially when it comes to the allrounder. A replacement was never found for Jacques Kallis - a top-order two-in-one - while they rotated between lower-order options including Ryan McLaren, Wayne Parnell and Chris Morris. Now, David Wiese has been given the chance to make the role his own.
"That's something that this ODI team has always been searching for - somebody at No. 7 who can bowl seamers and also contribute with the bat," Amla said. "David Wiese has been an outstanding bowler in the T20s, and it's a great opportunity for him to put his name into the hat as a long-term solution for our No. 7."
And if he isn't, Amla is not too concerned yet, with the next fifty-over tournament still far enough away for South Africa to keep searching for players to fit into their style of play.
"Most teams, post World Cup, are finding more variety in their teams to find the right team for the Champions Trophy and the next World Cup. That's a healthy thing. As you build towards a World Cup you always see a more settled team, and the further you get away you the more variety you will see," he said.