Cape Town – Getting their primary power-hitting factors
Richard Levi and Albie Morkel into some sort of groove will be a keen Proteas
wish when they wind up their tour of England with the third Twenty20
international at Edgbaston on Wednesday (19:30 SA time).
Neither of the known boundary-seekers – Levi at the top of
the order and Morkel as an intended middle-order “finisher” – has yet been able
to post a meaningful score in the mini-series.
Levi got a first-baller in the severely reduced, and
eventually abandoned, second contest at Old Trafford on Monday, albeit
unluckily gloving a wide delivery from Steven Finn down the leg side, and also
failed to reach double figures in the first match at Chester-le-Street.
The more experienced, left-handed Morkel, meanwhile, holed out
for three in Manchester and did not get to the crease in the opener, which
South Africa won 1-0 – they cannot be eclipsed in the series now as the action
shifts further south to Birmingham.
Morkel had been with the national squad during the ODI
series in England, but not actually given any game time as he has mostly been
recuperating from injury and also preserved for the bigger-picture needs just
up the drag.
So unless either (or both) gets among the runs on Wednesday,
they will go onward to the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka next week minus the
benefit of personal form at the crease; Morkel has looked fairly decent with
the ball in brief opportunities.
Theirs is a high-risk, tricky trade in this format, where
the pressure on them to be potential match-winners is ever-present.
But at the same time, it is probably fair to say a certain
amount of heat has been mounting on them to be more consistently prominent for
their country’s T20 cause.
The burly, 24-year-old Levi has now played six T20
internationals and not yet come even remotely close again to repeating (though
that may never actually happen in statistical terms, of course) his whirlwind
117 not out off 51 deliveries against New Zealand in Hamilton earlier this
His next best score for the Proteas is 19, and former
national captain Kepler Wessels was quick to point out in the SuperSport studio
after Wednesday’s frustrating fixture that teams cannot afford to have a
front-end hitter being only a “one in seven knocks” factor.
Is Levi simply a one-innings wonder, or perhaps even a tad
too much of an indelicate slogger? These are issues the Cape Cobras player may
gradually have to contend with, whether unfairly or not, unless he discovers
some more regular mojo.
Otherwise on Wednesday night, the curtailed affair was
reasonably useful to both sides, while it lasted, in terms of practising
playing under “reduced overs” circumstances – who knows, the phenomenon may
just rear its head again for either outfit at the World T20.
While each team’s innings basically turned into a lottery,
and once again the machine who is Hashim Amla anchored the visitors’ charge,
coach Gary Kirsten would have been heartened with the professional, cool-headed
short stint in the field, where the Proteas kept England well short of
Duckworth/Lewis requirements until the heavens opened once more to put the game
out of its misery.
Morne Morkel bowled a wonderfully economical two overs,
despite the greasy conditions which hardly helped the gangly customer keep his
footing properly at the delivery crease, and both he and Robin Peterson – in
particular – also grasped excellent outfield catches.
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