Proteas in England

Parnell gives SA some cheer

2012-09-01 13:05
Wayne Parnell (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Sometimes these things go near-unnoticed in a sobering defeat, but Wayne Parnell’s disciplined and committed showing with the ball was a bright aspect to bank from the Proteas’ first defeat of any kind in England this summer.

Friday’s four-wicket reverse in the third one-day international, which levelled the five-match series 1-1 with two to play, saw England very quickly snatch back the No 1 ranking from the tourists.

Still, the yoyo could change hands once more, and with even greater swiftness, if AB de Villiers’s troops can atone for their uncharacteristically poor batting performance at The Oval – where they were bowled out for 211 with almost three and a half remaining overs wasted – by winning Sunday’s next fixture at Lord’s (11:15 SA time).

At least there was little wrong with their bowling effort, in defence of a clearly sub-standard total, with Parnell the welcome pick of the crop.
Considering that it is well over three years now since the left-handed all-rounder made his international debut – in Australia in January 2009 – people perhaps forget that the Port Elizabeth product only recently turned 23.

So he still very much qualifies as “one for the future” and it is encouraging, under the circumstances, to see him just beginning to prosper again in the trademark green Proteas limited-overs shirt.

He has experienced a slightly rocky period at all levels, including quests to remodel his bowling action and a handful of unfortunate, off-field disciplinary scraps as well.

But the Parnell of mid-2012 -- perhaps feeding off the decent, broad squad vibe being fostered under the tutelage of Gary Kirsten – looks in renewed physical nick and bowling again with more of a cutting edge in both pace and purpose.

Run-containment had never been his greatest asset in his 24 ODIs leading up to the latest one on a strangely slow track at The Oval, as reflected in a career economy rate that is closer to six than five, but it was his success as a prolific wicket-taker that marked his earliest phase in service to his country.

So to see Parnell be notably the strangler-in-chief as England rather laboured to their undemanding target on Friday would have pleased the Proteas’ brains trust no end.

As had been the case in the fine win at the Rose Bowl a few days earlier, he bowled at lively pace and even beat the bat a few times on a strip hardly conducive to nicks really flying off the edge.

His final analysis of 10-1-23-1 was a breath of fresh air, considering that his previous best effort for economy in a completed ODI quota of overs had been 10-0-51-2 against Sri Lanka at the Wanderers last summer.

Parnell’s satisfying night’s work happened to coincide with Lonwabo Tsotsobe, the more established left-arm seamer for the Proteas and until very recently the top-ranked ODI bowler (he has been elbowed into second by Pakistan’s Mohammad Hafeez), being the only SA customer to take some real “tap”.

Tsotsobe was lashed for 55 runs in only seven overs, but that is the sort of fate experienced by most bowlers from time to time in this unforgiving arena, and no doubt he will make a spirited bid to atone for it if chosen for the Lord’s follow-up match.

It will also be interesting to see whether there can be more regular room, down the line, for both Parnell and Tsotsobe in the same ODI side, considering that the South African XI looked just a little too lopsided in favour of bowling options on Friday, with Parnell stationed as high as No 7 in the batting order and not fully grasping his chance to shine in that area.

Mind you, several of the more specialist batsmen ahead of him seemed to succumb simultaneously to a “get myself out when set” virus at The Oval, which hopefully will not be repeated too quickly ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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