Chilly end but warm prospects
Sport24 columnist Colin Bryden (File)
A damp, chilly evening and a rain-shortened match made for an inappropriate ending to a wonderfully successful Proteas tour of England.
When the start of play in Birmingham was delayed by a soggy field, it would not have been surprising if the players (of both sides) started thinking of getting back to their hotels for a bit of last-minute packing ahead of the next day’s flight to Sri Lanka for the ICC World Twenty20.
When an 11-over match got under way, Morne Morkel had a horror start, which included the most off-target wide I can recall seeing outside of an Under-10 match, in a first over which cost 16 runs. There was a clawing back of the run rate before Wayne Parnell sent down the worst over of his career, conceding 32 runs, exacerbated by two successive no-balls, an almost unpardonable sin in T20 cricket. The buccaneering Jos Buttler took full advantage, hitting three sixes and two audaciously scooped fours off the hapless left-armer.
The abiding memories of England 2012 will, however, be of South Africa’s magnificent Test series victory in which virtually all the players made significant contributions. To follow that up with shared one-day and T20 series was a superb effort given that there must have been an inevitable feeling of anti-climax for the players who gave their all in the Test matches.
It would probably be no exaggeration to state that no batsman since Don Bradman has had a more successful tour of England than Hashim Amla, who averaged more than 100 in both the Tests and the one-day games before being the top scorer in both the T20s in which he played.
The challenge in Sri Lanka will be totally different as the players adapt to heat, humidity and sub-continental pitches, with scarcely a chance to draw breath before taking on Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka in the space of three days next week.
South Africa have a side suitable for most conditions. One concern must be the form of Richard Levi at the top of the batting order. He could be a match-winner but he got himself out cheaply three times in England. He needs to show some respect for the basics by getting a sense of the pitch and the bowling before trying to hit the ball out of the ground.
Some of the other batsmen would have benefitted by spending a bit more time at the crease in the rain-hit T20 series in England but it is a solid line-up. The fielding should be excellent and a bowling arsenal spearheaded by the pace of Dale Steyn and an on-target Morne Morkel, backed by the spin of Johan Botha and Robin Peterson, is as good as any in the hectic T20 world.
South Africa’s prospects look good - but in a T20 World Cup most teams have potential match-winners and one burst of inspired hitting, or one poor over, can be decisive.Colin Bryden is back on his couch watching the one-day games after reporting live on the Test series in England.
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