Pakistan in SA
McLaren: Proteas must improve
Ryan McLaren (Gallo Images)
Bloemfontein - South Africa has to improve in each and every one-day international (ODI) match leading up to the Champions Trophy, said all-rounder Ryan McLaren in Bloemfontein, on Friday.
"As bowlers, we spent some time yesterday discussing where we could improve, with the emphasis on the different phases of the 50-over format," McLaren said after South Africa had lost four of their last six ODI matches.
"But it’s an ongoing process and, as a team, we want to improve in every single game we play, building towards the Champions Trophy and the next World Cup."
Dominating in the Test arena, South Africa’s recent 2-1 series loss to New Zealand in the one-day format set off alarm bells ahead of the forthcoming ICC Champions Trophy.
It was McLaren’s batting which prevented New Zealand’s clean sweep of the three-match ODI series, during their recent tour of South Africa.
Needing three off the last ball against the Black Caps in Potchefstroom, McLaren scooped a six off the last delivery and helped South Africa avoid a series whitewash.
McLaren said they had spent some time reflecting on that series, as well as their recent hammering by Pakistan in the only Twenty20 contest between the two sides.
"There has been some reflection but, from our point of view, it’s a new series now and a totally different approach.
"The Pakistan team may have taken a psychological blow in the Test series but they really bounced back in the Twenty20 match in Centurion last week, which would have given them a lot of confidence.
"But we have our own goals and we know what we want to achieve in the five matches, so we’ll just be focused on our own processes and make sure that they work."
Pakistan, who would be playing their first ever match in Bloemfontein, boasted a threatening ODI bowling attack which included four spinners --Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi.
The Proteas were aware of the fact and had prepared accordingly, said McLaren.
"Realising that their strength lies with their spinners, our preparation has been partly focused on how we’re going to bat against them," McLaren said.
"They’re an all-round attack which includes some good, experienced seamers as well. So, while we have prepared well for the spinners, we haven’t isolated our training towards the spinners only."
He said the team always tried to simulate the different scenarios in the nets and worked on all the different aspects of exposure, although it was not always possible to get it right.
"We try and create the same pressure and intensity in the nets and work out our own areas of scoring runs.
"We also work out how we will deal with the power plays and ask the guys bowling to us to try and get it as close as they can to what we would face in the game."
With Dale Steyn still travelling in the United States and Morne Morkel not fully recovered, McLaren said he was confident South Africa had picked the best players available.
He stressed the coaching staff were not "experimenting" but the starting XI would revolve around the availability of their top two bowlers and also the ground conditions on the day.
"Dale will come back in the second ODI, and Morne is working on his fitness, so those are factors that will influence the combinations of the team.
"As far as the rest is concerned, it will depend on what is conducive to conditions wherever we play around the country.
"But in every series, irrespective of which team we’re playing, our goal is to win every game."