Proteas in England

Proteas need 'blasters' firing

2012-09-11 11:18
Albie Morkel (Gallo)
  Gallery

The Proteas went sightseeing on a visit to Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium.

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 year.

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.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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