Proteas frighteningly off pace

2011-10-20 07:30

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer 

Cape Town – Fortunately in some ways, considering the dubiously condensed nature of the itinerary, there is little danger of it turning into a “long” summer for South Africa against the touring Australians.

After all, they’ll have left our shores even while people in some parts of the country are still tempted to brand it late spring.

The main business of the two Tests still lies ahead, but three limited-overs matches into the visit and there can be little doubting that the Aussies look much the hungrier and more twinkle-toed outfit.

The Proteas were fortunate to share the two-game Twenty20 series, courtesy primarily of a freak few overs of meaty tonking from Wayne Parnell and Rusty Theron at the Wanderers on Sunday after all had seemed lost ... yet at the eternally weather-jinxed Centurion on Wednesday the visitors very much restored their superiority in winning the first ODI by almost 100 runs.

That is a sobering margin in a severely Duckworth/Lewis-condensed affair.

It is still too early to start rummaging for the morphine in the medicine cabinet; let’s not forget that new coach Gary Kirsten has only been with his charges for just over a week, thanks mainly to the curse of the Champions League in India which prevented the national squad from assembling with any proper time at their disposal to “click” anew as a social and cricketing group after a long off-season.

Still, the schedule for this tour has been out for a good while and Proteas enthusiasts are perhaps entitled to inquire acidly why the undercooked look of their heroes as a collective has really come as no great surprise.

You get a bit of a niggly feeling, too, that amidst the hype and rightful jubilation which accompanied Kirsten’s appointment, a bit of a malaise simultaneously took root among certain established players: “The Indian miracle-maker is here, so all will be well.”

Kirsten alone cannot guarantee success: it needs buy-in and hard, sweaty yards from the men who actually take to the park.

Am I alone in still having a wee suspicion that the Proteas limited-overs squad of early 2011/12 contains one or two too many “chunkies” or naturally ungainly customers who stomp rather than glide about the outfield?

In fairness, acting captain Hashim Amla made the pertinent point after the near-rout at SuperSport Park that the Aussies have had the benefit of a winter tour to Sri Lanka which “hardened” them to a far greater extent than his rusty own side.

Nevertheless, some worrying questions around the South African squad are already creeping onto the table.

Is Amla, who has publicly before made no secret of his preference for “number two” status, really suited to leading the one-day side until AB de Villiers’s return? More pertinently, are there already some fledgling signs that the burden is affecting his precious batting qualities?

Is JP Duminy going to become teenage tearaway Pat Cummins’ series bunny? He has fallen to him three times in three innings, albeit that in the Cape Town T20 he provided a weighty and elegant knock of 67  – more than double the individual tally managed by any other South African in the top five over the course of the trio of games, in fact.

Just how suited is David Miller to a “rebuild” job when the top order is so clearly misfiring? (I don’t doubt his potential as a power-hitting finisher if, touch wood, the specialists above him find some mojo.)

Are Graeme Smith’s problems against left-arm pace becoming too terminal to warrant carrying him in the limited-overs side?

The tragedy on Wednesday was that, after consultation with non-striker Amla, a review was not called for: it would have got the left-hander off the hook against Doug Bollinger’s leg-before-wicket strike although he had been rather beaten neck and crop anyway at first glance, it must be said.

Shouldn’t intended Test series lethal weapon Dale Steyn, who thrives on rhythm yet palpably lacks it at this stage because of a lopsided diet of instant cricket, be pulled out of the third ODI in Durban on October 28 and instead get plenty of first-class overs beneath his belt when the Cobras play the Titans from October 27 in the SuperSport Series at Benoni?

So many questions; already so little time to seize back the initiative from a seemingly fast re-awakening Australia.

Still, it would be unreasonable to lose all faith in that happening.

The Proteas can only get better ... can’t they?

The Proteas are on dangerous ground against their old foes: they have conceded a lot of early mental ground to them and there are only two more ODIs left to try to turn the mini-series around and, at least in some cases, try to buy some semblance of form for the Tests.


  • heinrich.beukes1 - 2011-10-20 07:51

    I am really worried about our cricket and rugby, we need to rebuild and let go of some of the old not in form players. I don't believe Amla is the right man for the captaincy job it affects his batting severely. I would rather go with Johan Botha as he has done the job for South Africa before and succeeded. The only players I can say is getting somewhere is JP Duminy (Still not 100% but i believe i will get better) Johan Botha has tight bowling and can bat a little bit and Tsotsobe is bowling nicely. The rest of the team i am worried about. Let me hope I am wrong but if they keep playing these players we are going to have 2 white washes.

      Shivaskar - 2011-10-20 09:38

      Where is Tahir? He can actually spin the ball. Featured him in the world cup but now he is forgotten for reasons I cannot understand. Botha is not world-class, not even close. He only does well when the strike bowlers get early wickets, then he can bowl to an attacking field and not be under pressure. He gets his 10 overs out the way once the new batsmen are in and then his figures look good and suddenly everyone is blowing smoke up his ass about how good he is. When the batsmen get off to a good start, Botha cannot then take wickets like how Ashwin, Harbajan, and Murali can. Tahir is a wicket taker but SA selectors can choose players blindly and suffer the whitewash. Then they'll get a wake up. SA just does not have anything to match Johnson's swing or Cummins pace. Whitewash is on the cards like never before.

      danie.barnard2 - 2011-10-20 11:01

      How can you already claim the captaincy is affecting Amla after only 3 games? Games in which almost all batsmen have failed? Cmon, give the guy a chance.... Theres a reason why he is the number 1 ODI batsmen in the world.

      Jeff - 2011-10-20 12:51

      Rugby will end exactly the same as CSA. Political interference will increase until our main opposition will be kenya and zimbabwe. Watch this space.

  • Gary - 2011-10-20 07:52

    im glad they lost becasue the T20 win only camouflaged the poor performance. Is it right to allow players to regain form in the national team at the expense of the team. Is it not time to move on an build some young blood,we have new,young and exciting coach, why not add some youth to the mix.

  • Hannetjie - 2011-10-20 08:07

    The Proteas were totally outclassed last night. We were at the game and loyally sat through the rain interruptions but when the Proteas started batting it was clear they don't have the urgency or the 'gut' to chase the total. In defence I think the DL total was unrealistic in any eveny but they could at least have tried. Result- we left halfway through the SA innings - cold and disappointed!!!

      heinrich.beukes1 - 2011-10-20 08:23

      Hannetjie if they came close and not loose so many wickets upfront or at regular intervals I would say ok fair enough, was a okay performance. But this is not we expect from our national team we need more than mediocre performances. So disappointing. Sorry for everyone who was sitting in the rain and had to watch such absolute crap cricket.

      Pieter - 2011-10-20 11:44

      Can't agree more! The team do not have to win each and every game they play, it is unrealistic to expect; BUT we expect them to TRY every time, time after time. Is it just my imagination or is there very little of our once famous fielding prowess left?

  • Peter - 2011-10-20 08:22

    We are looking terrible! Our bowlers struggle to bowl more than 2 decent over’s (each) per game. We have too many old out of form (could care less) players on the field. And please could we ask MNET not broadcast Dale Steyn's tantrums on the field. He is an absolute disgrace to our team with his arrogance. Does he get a nervous breakdown, an itch, an anger attack or epilepsy (respect to the real sufferers) when he gets a wicket? Please clean up this mess rather sooner than later and don't make the same mistakes as our Springbok rugby this year benching the best players while the others are cashing in on their Pensions.

  • granville.paulse - 2011-10-20 08:24

    Shame! I think we should get all the left arm medium pacers at club level, to bowl to Graeme:) He is just plain rubbish against left arm seam bowling.

      Anthony - 2011-10-20 14:31

      granville, he is just plain rubbish -fullstop--in his last 16 appearances before this series he averaged 16 with 2 ducks--his average for this series is 1.5 runs--- wayyyyyyyyyyyy past his sell by date --how much more evidence do u need gary ???-FOR HEAVANS SAKE

  • tyron.rees - 2011-10-20 08:43

    The game was lost at the toss..bare with me...we KNEW it was going to rain (it ALWAYS rains at Centurion) but we bowl first when winning the toss? Where is the logic in that - you SHOULD know your DL score will be adjusted up if you bat first and the rain interrupts play. The strategy should be to go in, bat as if it is a 40 over game (given we know what time the should should come and if it comes sooner all the better because by that time we would not have lost wickets and our DL score would be beefed up even more), take advantage of the power plays as well (when you bat second on DL you get less power play overs too) and smile when they load an extra 40 on your total. Poor planning boys..rookie rookie mistake! No excuse!

      tyron.rees - 2011-10-20 09:22

      Well said...dont even get me started on Smith...I couldnt agree more that we carry dead weight in the team...and its quite a weight to carry indeed

  • Lauré - 2011-10-20 08:55

    Smith was our main problem at the World Cup. Not one substantial innings. We need an explosive opener to bat with steady Amla. I vote Davy Jacobs, and let him take the gloves also, which will allow AB to field in the covers where he is one of the best in the world.I also think Ingram offers more than Miller at this stage. If Faf du Plessis plays, you can't play Johan Botha. Faf must bowl. He, Kallis and JP must share 10 overs. Then we play Tahir as our premium spin option. Its an absolute must. Tsotsobe is bowling well; Morkel is often difficult to get away, but I would pick either Parnell or Theron and not Steyn. We need a death bowler specialist, and Steyn has never convinced me that ODI's are his thing.

  • Wade - 2011-10-20 08:55

    the selection of the side is the main problem...and a few injuries dont help! in a fully fit side our best odi team must be: rudolph,amla,kallis,de villiers,ingram,duminy,a morkel,boucher,botha,morkel and steyn. lets get a side that will make the runs no matter what happens with our bowlers... then our attack is steyn,morkel,a morkel, kallis, botha, duminy. then, in the squad we can rotate ingram for a bowler- rusty or lopsy. or persist with ab to keep in the shorter formats! faf and miller must go! along with parnell!

  • Peter - 2011-10-20 09:30

    Everyone says that Smith owes us a big one........when? Let him get his problems sorted out while he plays for his province. Another question that needs to be answered is- why don't two SA teams get selected at the beginning of a season to play a few games against one another. This will give the selecters a better idea of who is firing and who isn't. SA cricket is indeed a shambles from the top down. Bring in Rudolph to open the batting.

  • deon.jacobsz - 2011-10-20 09:44

    SOS Jacques Rudolph

      Koos - 2011-10-20 11:15

      Agree - what did he do - principle is MERIT - is the selectors blind?

  • Grace - 2011-10-20 10:01

    Graeme Smith is NOT suited to the shortened versions of cricket....Wake up, selectors ! He makes us look like the fools we are.

  • Dianne - 2011-10-20 10:01

    I blamed the horrible performance last night on the Supersport Centurion Curse, but I agree with all the comments I've read. We also left early.

  • jen.bader - 2011-10-20 10:03

    Why send such an unprepared team in against Aussie? Why, with a new captain and coach were no warm up games played? A few matches against a 'B' team made up of potential A team players would have been a good idea. We pay a lot of money for tickets and want to at least see a fightback!

  • Mpho - 2011-10-20 11:32

    Proteas frighteningly off pace? Proteas selection policy frighteningly corrupt! If you're going to pick a spinner, why on earth wouldn't you pick the best spinner in the country? Imran Tahir is so much better than Johan Botha it's not even worth scratching your head over and they're gonna justify this atrocious selection by the 20 odd runs Botha might score on a good day? Given that Graeme Smith is no longer captain, why on earth would he still get selected on his current form? I say current but "current" has been over a year now. They're gonna justify Graeme's selection with "he's helping Amla". Really? You have Kallis, Bouch, Amla himself a veteran and he still needs Smith to hold his hand through captaincy? Graeme Smith is a walking wicket, SA is virtually 0 for 1 before Australia bowls a ball... Meantime on form players like Levi and Rudolph are playing their butts off under the impression that good performances lead to national selection. The team spirit in that dressing room cannot be good, it's impossible under these conditions. Players on the outside see what's happening. They are competitors too, it's impossible that they don't resent the fact that a few players are calling the shots on who gets to play or not and where and when they get to play. You think Tahir doesn't know he should be there, that it's an insult to even compare him to the clown "spinner" that gets selected before him? You think Parnell doesn't see that Steyn is a rubbish ODI bowler?

      mnbain - 2011-10-20 13:10

      Well said... G Smith, Dale Steyn - You are the weakest links... Good bye.

  • Pieter - 2011-10-20 11:59

    "…It is still too early to start rummaging for the morphine in the medicine cabinet; let’s not forget that new coach Gary Kirsten has only been with his charges for just over a week, thanks mainly to the curse of the Champions League in India which prevented the national squad from assembling with any proper time at their disposal to “click” anew as a social and cricketing group after a long off-season.…" Since when is the Champions League more important than national duties? CSA should get their priorities right. If necessary, withdraw from the Indian circus!

  • Stephen - 2011-10-20 12:47

    People just dont watch cricket simple as that. What I really find hilarious is the way some on here talk up these Australians after ONE performance. Believe these so called super duper stars will go out of form and look just as ordinary

  • Vic - 2011-10-21 12:01

    It's quite ABSURD to call Botha arrogant---where the hell do you get such a stupid idea from.??! He's a damn good player & SHOULD be the Cpt (at least of the limited over teams). Of course Tahir is good & should be slotted in & leave out Steyn, from ODI & T20 teams. Smith, of course should definitely NOT be in either of these squads & needs to EARN his place again in the Test side, where AB should be Cpt., anyway. You certainly CANNOT talk about leaving out Kallis, Boucher (of the "old school", as some of you wish to call them)--just look at their ongoing excellent performances & don't simply be "ONE-EYED" idiots.!! Faf deserves more opportunities & Rudolph, like McKenzie, has been / is continually VERY BADLY treated by the selectors & Cricket SA.!!! Hopefully Amla doesn't out of all this with a "bloodied" nose.!

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