Parnell fails to start engine
Cape Town - If June 19 is dubiously to be branded the first day of the season, then Wayne Parnell
could diplomatically be described as having had an “unfortunate” start to 2012/13.
Some consolation for the left-arm pace bowler, of course, is that the Twenty20 international between South Africa and Bangladesh, in a Zimbabwe-hosted triangular series, counts as unofficial for records purposes.
Where most team-mates managed to be workmanlike at the very least as they banished some cobwebs in a 39-run victory
over the eternal minnows (they didn’t offer too much to finally alter that perception) at Harare Sports Club on Tuesday, Parnell had a bit of a shocker.
The only way has got to be up for him, you would think, after he registered his least flattering bowling figures in T20 combat for the Proteas: 4-0-61-0.
Thank goodness, they will not be added statistically to his 15 full-status T20 appearances for South Africa, where his worst completed stint remains 4-0-44-0 against the rather stronger foe of Australia at the Wanderers last season.
Even then, Port Elizabeth-born Parnell could at least say he played a critical part in a come-from-behind victory, he and Warriors colleague Rusty Theron clobbering 64 runs for the unbroken eighth wicket to see the Proteas home with five balls to spare after being outplayed for most of the contest.
On Tuesday, there were no such silver linings.
The credible all-rounder did not get an opportunity to bat, as South Africa posted a commanding total in excess of 200 for the loss of just three wickets, with a sublime acting captain Hashim Amla
(88 not out off 53 balls) looking as though he hadn’t been away from the crease at all in the autumn and early winter.
And then Parnell’s veritable shower with the ball - allied to a horrible personal catching gaffe in the deep - was the primary cause, alas, of the Proteas just failing to win with a bonus point.
The Tigers looked unlikely to get past the required 169 to deny their juggernaut opponents that luxury, as they were curtailed to 149 for seven at the start of the last over.
But Parnell, who had wrestled awkwardly to get especially his length right even prior to taking responsibility for the 20th over, only imploded further as he leaked 21 runs, simultaneously allowing Mushfiqur Rahim to sneak to a hearty little half-ton just before the teams shook hands.
Hopefully Parnell, the former SA under-19 captain, will not fret too much, given how seriously early this is in a demanding cricketing year yet to gather any steam for South Africa.
But those who have faith in his talent - and there’s no lack of them about - might have stirred just a little anxiously, given that Parnell has had a couple of difficult years (including some disciplinary upheaval and a change of religious faith that got more headlines than it frankly merited) since his heartening explosion into international action as a still-teenager in January 2009.
He might also have been expected to be a little less out-of-groove than several team-mates on Tuesday, given that he was last in competitive action exactly a month earlier on May 19, for Pune Warriors at the tail-end of IPL 2012.
Clearly he still has a way to go before he rediscovers his initial mojo for his country, although at 22 time remains consummately on his side for genuine delivery on known potential.
For the time being, his struggle against Bangladesh may have helped open the door for Lions all-rounder Chris Morris, a new face in the Proteas set-up, to get a gallop against Zimbabwe at the same venue on Wednesday?*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing