AB learns harsh lessons
Sport24 columnist Colin Bryden (File)
AB de Villiers will return from the ICC World Twenty20 a sadder but wiser man.
The clear lesson from the tournament in Sri Lanka is that successful teams make the best use of their star players. In South Africa’s case that translates to De Villiers batting himself in the top three, ideally as an opening batsman. The bizarre planning which saw him batting at six and five in the first two Super Eight matches cost South Africa dearly.
Richard Levi has been made a scapegoat for South Africa’s poor starts and he proved woefully inadequate on tricky pitches, especially against slower bowlers. He needs to spend time playing first-class cricket to add nuances to his game.
Levi was not alone in having a poor tournament, however. Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis DID bat in the top three. In a tournament in which totals have been moderate, their skill and technique should have been ideal for the conditions but they failed dismally in the Super Eight games, scoring a combined 47 runs for six times out. When the leading players fail to fire it is always going to be difficult to make competitive totals. The failure of the top order came as a shock after the promise of the preliminary games and was the biggest downfall for the Proteas.
The rest of the batting was no better than average, with Faf du Plessis playing the only dominant innings when he was finally given a chance in the last game. JP Duminy played some useful knocks but Farhaan Behardien was unable to produce the clean hitting which earned him selection.
The bowling was good, with Dale Steyn outstanding and Robin Peterson having another fine tournament, but “death” bowling remains a problem for the Proteas.
Some of De Villiers’s decision-making was poor, notably when he brought on Albie Morkel with Pakistan requiring 42 runs off four overs with only three wickets standing, instead of continuing with Johan Botha, who had conceded only ten runs in two overs. Morkel bowled a disastrous over, which included a no-ball, and by bowling short of a length fed Umar Gul’s only real strength as a batsman – the ability to hit the ball far over midwicket. The elder Morkel is only 31 but he looked well past his best.
Wayne Parnell seems to have shot backwards and he is another player who needs to hone his game in the grind of first-class cricket. The same surely applies to Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who seems to have fallen totally out of favour while remaining a non-playing member of touring squads.
The next assignment for the Proteas is a Test series in Australia. They will be departing in just over three weeks. Ideally, those Test players who played in the T20 after a long tour of England should be resting or at most playing one or two first-class games. Unfortunately key players like De Villiers, Kallis and Morne Morkel will be involved in the Champions League T20 which starts next week. It is not ideal preparation.Colin Bryden is back on his couch after reporting live on the Proteas' tour to England.
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