ICC Champions Trophy

Averages prove SA ... average!

2013-06-20 14:00
AB de Villiers (AFP)
Cape Town – A glance at the team’s Champions Trophy statistics only confirms why the Proteas failed yet again to win or at least reach the final of a major ICC limited-overs tournament.

It was an event which, in broad summary, no South African individual grabbed lustily by the horns, something that went a long way to explaining the squeaky passage to the last four and then emphatic exit to England in a semi-final at The Oval on Wednesday.

AB de Villiers’s side only won one of four games, let’s not forget, and started very much on the back foot with that undignified walloping from India’s batsmen in the opening fixture at Cardiff.

They were a bit like the current UK weather ... inconsistent and unpredictable, with spells of sunshine but then pronounced gloom or sharp showers.

Considering the absence or desperately injury-curtailed tournaments of several normally key players, the side needed a handful of remaining, proven performers like De Villiers himself and Hashim Amla to shine particularly brightly – and that just didn’t happen.

 With the second semi and then the final still to be completed, the captain had at least held onto eighth position on the list of top runs-scorers, although he ended with that ungainly stroke, which cost him his wicket for a duck, at The Oval.

De Villiers mustered 138 runs from the Proteas’ four games at an average of 34.50, with just one significant innings of 70, achieved first-up in the high-scoring loss to world No 1-ranked India. That is well below his career ODI average of 49.82.

Almost identically, the so often metronomic Amla produced one healthy knock, the anchoring 81 in the lone triumph over Pakistan, although he finished with 127 runs at 31.75, which falls even more significantly short of his wonderful career figure thus far of 55.07.

Another batsman who counts as suitably senior these days, JP Duminy – he’s aged 29 and has now played 99 ODIs --had a tournament to truly forget at the crease, his unusually all-at-sea little vigil in the semi only reflecting his regular struggle for runs this month in England and Wales.

He scratched together 43 tourney runs at 10.75, although a mitigating factor for the little left-hander, who bowled a few decent enough stints of off-spin, was that he came into the event out of the lengthy “cold” due to painstaking rehabilitation from a serious injury ... Duminy will quickly restore his mojo, I am pretty sure.

Slightly less established ODI customers, like Faf du Plessis and Colin Ingram, continued to be frustratingly enigmatic.

The left-handed Ingram’s tournament was only given a modicum of personal respectability by one brilliant innings of 73 against West Indies in a total of 99 runs for him at the front of the order.

He is still a bit of a selectors’ nightmare, because he has shown on several occasions that he can play at this level, only to intersperse big knocks with marked spells of flimsy ones.

Du Plessis? Following his Test-match heroics in Australia, this player understandably became a popular call for installation as a regular pick for one-day internationals as well.

It may surprise one or two people, therefore, to learn that at least statistically, the Titans-based favourite has not fully nailed down a slot in the shorter-form environment.

He got “in” four times and then duly got out at the Champions Trophy, as evidenced from a lowest knock of 26 and highest of 35.

From 37 ODIs in total, Du Plessis averages a so-so 30.33, with a best of only 72 which is really not quite good enough for someone predominantly stationed among the top five, by my book, although his known abilities cannot be called into question and he offers huge amounts as a sharp in-fielder.

The Proteas’ bowlers, meanwhile, also blew occasionally warmish, and sometimes rather more coolish, although this department was particularly hampered by the non-presence of some wise old heads in their ranks.

Again only one South African has made it into the top 10 for most wickets at the event, the gradually more steely Ryan McLaren in fourth, with his eight scalps at 18.50.

It is possibly worth asking how three bowlers from relative minnows New Zealand could be top-tenners; more might have been expected, for example, of the relatively seasoned Lonwabo Tsotsobe – especially as he needed to step up his levels of responsibility with Messrs Steyn and Morkel so seldom around him.

Tsotsobe is also the type of ODI cricketer who needs to be bowling consistently well, given that he offers nothing with the bat and fielding-wise is a bit like a lorry labouring up a pass with a full load.

The general observation “could have done better” may well be emblazoned with conviction across the combined Proteas players’ performance file.

Boy, is there some thinking to do ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  ab de villiers  |  cricket

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