Proteas gather steam for Eng

2010-05-07 11:04

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – South Africa can be said to be making “strides” now after an iffy start to their ICC World Twenty20 campaign.

Thursday’s largely impressive 13-run triumph over a tough-nut New Zealand side in Barbados took them straight to the top of their Super Eights section after one outing by each of the four sides in the group.

They lead England, who downed Pakistan in the Kensington Oval double-header, on net run rate (+0.65 to their +0.39) and now these sides go head to head at the same venue on Saturday (19:30 our time).

It ought to be a fascinating encounter because Paul Collingwood’s men are hitting their straps too, and were hardly less impressive as one Kevin Pietersen -- 73 not out off 52 balls – spearheaded their own win.

The Proteas may, of course, not benefit especially from any Afrikaans strategic chatter in the field because all of England’s T20 top three at present are South African-born and, even if “KP” poses the most obvious threat, Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter are gaining in confidence as well.

The rookie openers have been giving their team fairly high-tempo starts at this event: against West Indies they posted 36 in 3.4 overs, then 24 in four overs against Ireland and 44 in 5.4 overs against the Pakistanis.

With the wristy, audacious and sometimes highly unorthodox Eoin Morgan also in good nick, England are not lacking in urgency at the crease these days and the Proteas will bank on their in-form pace bowlers to unsettle their plans with early strikes.

As Cricinfo’s Andrew McGlashan noted after the Pakistan triumph: “Since Andy Flower took charge as coach (England’s) development as a one-day unit has really gathered pace.

“No longer is the short form – either 50 overs or 20 – the ugly duckling of English cricket.”

Still, South Africa are likelier to dwell on their own positives of the last couple of days as they size up the next challenge.

They got a lot right against the Kiwis, from some sensible selection tweaks to Graeme Smith’s calm hold on the strategic tiller on the field itself.

Reuniting the “old firm” of Smith and Jacques Kallis at the top of the order was a sound move; both looked in pretty sprightly touch even if Smith again got himself out as he was gathering momentum quite ominously for Daniel Vettori and company.

And not only did Herschelle Gibbs produce a solid effort at the crease after his recall to the side as the No 3, but his sublime fielding and catching ability – something Sport24 had urged not to be under-valued in the immediate lead-up – was pivotal to stifling the game Kiwi chase of a stiff 171 to win.

Meanwhile Johan Botha’s installation ahead of Roelof van der Merwe as main spinner paid dividends too: the former arguably offers a better general “cricketing package” in this format of the game, although Van der Merwe has not disgraced at his chief chore and perhaps the opportunity will arise again for both spinners to do duty on slower, gripping pitches than the one at Bridgetown.

The explosiveness at the crease of AB de Villiers and Albie Morkel toward the climax of the South African innings went a long way to tilting the game as well.

Morkel struck five precious sixes en route to his 18-ball knock of 40, revealing once again his uncanny ability to unnerve bowlers who are trying to get their yorkers right yet being straight-driven over the ropes mercilessly for their (only minor) sins!

As Vettori ruefully put it: “You have to be inch-perfect against someone like Morkel.”

If the Proteas can keep lifting their broader standards of “accuracy”, they could be in business for an early nail-down of a semi-final spot on Saturday night.


  • Lance - 2010-05-07 11:32

    Go Gibbsey!!! A solid performance indeed. He had that spark in his eye on the field that I just love to see. He is at his "second home" (his words) and we all know Gibbs just love the Caribbean - and it shows. Give him more game-time, i say. He should watch who he smokes with though. We don't want another scandal. I still can't stand Cullinan for squeeling on the guys.

  • Boris - 2010-05-07 11:55

    Now let's see what rubbish you are going to extract from your lame bunch of readers now.

  • Exodus @Boris - 2010-05-07 12:08

    Rubbish is what's in your pants - you blerry agent!

  • nadia - 2010-05-07 12:09

    wheres all the critics at?????

  • @Boris - 2010-05-07 12:13

    You must be the lamest of them all, damn Queer.

  • THE MAN - 2010-05-07 12:13

    @Boris: Behave yourself!

  • Wayne@UK - 2010-05-07 12:17

    Clutching at straws for some positiveness?

  • Wayne@UK - 2010-05-07 12:21

    Clutching at straws for some positiveness?

  • ELSA - 2010-05-07 12:29


  • EWS - 2010-05-07 13:06

    No matter what has happened in the past or what is going to happen in this world cup, I am a SA supporter to the very END. My country, My team, through thick or thin, I stand by them

  • Jimmy - 2010-05-07 13:12

    Is that a picture of Smith breaking his own fingers?

  • Michael - 2010-05-07 13:19

    you Jinxed it now!!!!!

  • Theunis - 2010-05-07 13:22

    I think it's going to be a cracker of a game. Still have my doubts about this Protea team, but I hope they can make us proud.

  • rob "metaphor howling - 2010-05-07 13:44

    Almost always get a laugh from Robs attempts at prose. Today was an "inverted" comma day.

  • Topo - 2010-05-07 13:47

    Well said Lance. Herschell can do well for us. I reckon he must just be given a chance and necessary support and he'll do very well for us. Nice one selectors and co. Johann had a wonderful game. Thats what we know and excepct from him. As for Daryll Cullinan, he just needs to shed some weight and concentrate only on that and stop talking nonsense.

  • @Exodus - 2010-05-07 13:53

    Don't touch me on my studio!

  • Jacques - 2010-05-07 14:01

    Where is Rusty Theron??? Surely he must get a chance to play...

  • webb - 2010-05-07 14:14

    Great stuff - normally the Proteas start tournaments thumping everyone in sight and bomb out, so let's hope after an "iffy" start, they begin to thump opponents at the end part of the tournament where things really count!

  • Shaun - 2010-05-07 14:42

    I think the Proteas will win, sorry i meant to say Mini Proteas will win (ie England)

  • elmarie - 2010-05-07 15:01

    what will the national side do without our kaapie boy you gibbs you will always be our golden boy proud cobra supported

  • Qnam - 2010-05-07 15:03

    Poor vroteas, talking to much before the game. King of Choke. Smith, get home.

  • Olive - 2010-05-07 15:10

    Looking forward to the match tomorrow and the best of luck to the Proteas. Last night was a good match and this team looks strong.Nice to have Gibbs and Botha back in the team. GO PROTEAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU CAN DO IT

  • SB - 2010-05-07 15:33

    @Exodus, great comment! Had be laughing out loud.

  • Mkabayi - 2010-05-07 15:50

    Yes Webb I support ur comment remember last year we won all the group matches but when we went to knockout stages we lost our first game and I also think that loosing the 1ST game was a blessing in disguise if you can see the group of india there is Assies and Sri lanka I am not saying that we r scared but our group is much easier compared to that 1.

  • Jaap - 2010-05-07 16:13

    Proteas need to consider if the result would have been the same had Albie gone out early - for the rest of the batsmen and team management they need to watch the aus vs india game closely to get the feeling of T20, feels like we are stuck in one day mode

  • Ag jinne - 2010-05-07 17:13

    @Jaap, that's like saying, India should have considered what their game against us would have been without Raina! The whole point of a game like this is that it CAN swing on very few people. So what? Are you just p*ssed off that you can't really fault anyone for once? Get a life, dude!

  • cicboy - 2010-05-08 10:38

    South Africa looked good against New Zealand, but our record against England is a bit concerning...

  • Burgiesburnin - 2010-05-08 11:03

    Its still hard to take 20/20 seriously. If you get teams that are often mentioned or have even conceeded match fixing, like South Africa and the like, you always wonder about the odd dropped catch or easy wicket.

  • Lloydster(uk) - 2010-05-08 14:17

    Not sure the Proteas have a balanced side yet,their bowling is still a problem at this format. The Poms(ex pats) have a strong side and the Ozzies too. SA battled to get the mix right with too many out of form players. I am hoping they beat England to prepare for tougher games ahead.

  • Ling Ling - 2010-05-08 15:40

    So tonight we watch South Africa play South Africa (well almost)......

  • Robert Kay - 2010-05-08 21:49

    Just gave up watching S.A. playing England. The bowlers were pathetic, except Botha, and the batsmen were just as bad. Just heard from my wife another wicket fell. S.A. 46 - 4, Morkel cleaned bowled. What a useless bunch of sportsmen.

  • johan - 2010-05-08 21:56

    Just as soon as they meet a decent opposition, proteas fall over and don't even want to compete. Useless bunch of gits.

  • miked - 2010-05-09 01:58

    Yes they are gits and loudmouths, but they are not useless. They were simply thumped by a better team on the day. Well played England even with SA throwouts, and well done for keeping your traps shut ahead of the massacre!

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