Kass Naidoo

Growing pains

2013-03-04 12:40
Sport24 columnist Kass Naidoo (File)
There is that all too familiar numb feeling the day after a Proteas loss, particularly one as bruising as yesterday’s at SuperSport Park. With Friday’s opening match rained out, the second T20 International in Centurion had all the makings of a final, and both teams were pumped up for it.

GALLERY: Proteas v Pakistan, second T20

While Pakistan hauled out their experienced big guns, SA captain Faf du Plessis told us to expect some “fresh ideas” with the Proteas parading their young eager charges, nine of whom had played less than 15 T20 internationals.

Hang on... isn’t this a series decider? Shouldn’t the Proteas have played a full strength side?

These are some of the questions furious fans were asking as the sounds of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ rang out after the Proteas’ crushing 95-run loss, in a game that saw them post their lowest ever T20 International total.

They say if you don’t try new things, you won’t make mistakes, but even Du Plessis would have been stunned by the manner in which his team was completely outplayed.

The one big plus was AB de Villiers’ jaw dropping shots, playing as opening batsman. I feel sorry for bowlers the day he and Henry Davids click.

They could reinvent SA’s approach to the first six overs - 50 runs could soon be 90 in the opening powerplay!

The introduction of multi-million rand IPL signing Chris Morris as pinch hitter at No 3, when Davids lost his wicket, was an aspect of the “fresh ideas” not universally popular.

Had these gambles paid off, we would have been lauding the team and coaching staff. But, as it turns out, the score-board pressure, built up after Mohammed Hafeez came to the party, was too intense, and the brilliance of Umar Gul, who posted match figures of 5-6, ensured that the SA gamble was short-lived.

The thing that interests me is that so many of the ‘set’ Proteas cricketers were passed over in favour of Sunday’s team try-out, something that would not have happened in the Mickey Arthur era.

The Proteas tested the depth of their T20 cricket yesterday and would have taken harsh lessons out of this heavy loss, but in time to come, this could be seen as a defining game on the road to building a world beating T20 outfit.

Under Gary Kirsten and Russell Domingo, South Africa are building a new limited overs culture, and there are going to be growing pains. It takes courage to go this route. Proteas fans are more accustomed to their team winning everything in the lead up to major ICC events, and then losing when it really mattered.

In just over a year, the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 takes place in Bangladesh. I am excited about the team’s chances, especially with the amount of experimentation taking place up front.

After losing the recent home ODI series to New Zealand, Proteas coach Gary Kirsten said: "Sometimes to fulfil a longer term vision you need to take a few steps back.”

The Proteas brains trust will likely regard the outcome of Sunday’s bruising loss as a few steps back, and they’re just as likely to use it to glean useful information to sculpt a team winning culture.

After all, if Kirsten and Russell Domingo wanted a good idea of South Africa’s T20 depth, they couldn’t have asked for better opponents to test out their skills than former ICC World T20 champions, Pakistan.

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Kass Naidoo is a former Corporate Relations Manager at Cricket South Africa and the founder and editor of gsport... for Girls! - an online initiative aimed at raising the profile of women in sport.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    proteas  |  pakistan in sa  |  cricket


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