Proteas

School of hard knocks for Proteas’ Paterson

2017-10-19 14:28
Dane Paterson (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Right now, it can’t be too easy being Dane Paterson.

While several Proteas players greedily fill their socks statistically, taking advantage of Bangladesh’s pretty severe limitations in two formats thus far on their tour here, the international-rookie seamer could be described as the one glaring opposite to the trend.

Paterson, in his first two exposures to one-day international cricket after a few prior Twenty20 appearances, found the going tough personally despite successive, thumping home wins at both Kimberley and Paarl.

Already 28 and well bedded-down in domestic cricket for the Cobras, ODI success hasn’t exactly come roaring his way yet: 0/69 in nine overs on debut in the Northern Cape city, and then 1/67 in 8.5 at Paarl on Wednesday.

So he is travelling at an average of closer to eight than seven runs to the over against the modest foes, which doesn’t seem a particularly healthy sign for him.

Indeed, there will be those (himself included, even?) who will be yearning for his transfer to the two-game T20 international combat; it is the format that seems rather closer to his forte.

But stranger things have happened than for a particular bowler to have a torrid start to his ODI life and turn it all around, so it is probably too early to start pigeon-holing Paterson as a specialist for the shortest brand of the game for SA.

Just for example, when that often fearsome Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson was first blooded in the ODI environment back in 2005/06, he travelled for 9-0-64-0 on debut against New Zealand in Christchurch, and then bowled a short-lived three overs (0/28) as Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers got hold of him in a merciless way a few weeks onward at Centurion.

But the left-arm slingshot went on to grab 239 wickets at 25 in a generous, 153-cap ODI career.

Paterson has already shown off his death skills, in particular, in the T20 international landscape, where constantly “mixing it up” can be both necessary and rewarding - he put an encouraging lid on England’s late charge in his last T20 game for the Proteas at Cardiff in June, where he earned figures of 4/32 in his four overs.

If anything, however, his first stabs at ODIs have only served as reminders that you have to put in a more pronounced, educated front-end shift as well, and also keep things simpler at times to curb the scoring rate.

There’s been some bad luck involved, too: just for one thing, daytime matches in the often sun-baked, cloudless backwaters of Kimberley and Paarl don’t hugely suit Paterson’s skiddy strengths.

He tends to come into his own, especially in the wickets column, in cooler, often coastal conditions where the ball nips around a bit and ideally under floodlights as well.

True pace is not a hallmark of Paterson, so batsmen are often prepared to smack him quite fearlessly through the line on “belters”.

And they say that when it rains it pours ... Paterson’s figures over the past few days have hardly been helped by missed chances off his bowling, and the inevitable instances of decent yorkers and the like being inside-edged for boundaries instead of disturbing the timber.

He may have another - possibly reputation-saving - shot at restoring his SA credentials in the 50-overs fray on Sunday, when the now dead-rubber third match against the Bangladeshis is played at Buffalo Park; the current Proteas squad is not exactly teeming with recognised opening bowlers, given that half a dozen or more top names are out injured.

Paterson is clearly not lacking in belief or big-match temperament; his calmness and enterprise at the death phase in T20 matches arguably proves that, so don’t dismiss the possibility that he comes good in East London.

But he might also note the well-meaning advice in SuperSport commentary on Wednesday from Shaun Pollock and Eric Simons.

Pollock, South Africa’s all-time, runaway leading wicket-taker in ODIs, observed: “He’s just got to learn to construct an ODI spell a little better ... in the last couple of overs you can focus mainly on yorkers, but this is not four-overs cricket.”

Simons, meanwhile, offered these sage observations: “I’d like to see more consistency (from Paterson) ... I haven’t seen Plan A for long enough; he’s been switching just too much to Plan B.

“Twenty20 cricket does that to you - it’s a game where you need more importantly to try to be a step ahead a lot of the time.

“In a 50-overs game I would like to see him hit a line and length and then force batsmen into taking him on.

“There’s been too much variation. (He must) aim to be simpler and ‘hit the bails’ more ... that kind of length.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  dane paterson  |  cricket
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