Cape Town – A glance at the team’s Champions Trophy
statistics only confirms why the Proteas failed yet again to win or at least
reach the final of a major ICC limited-overs tournament.
It was an event which, in broad summary, no South African
individual grabbed lustily by the horns, something that went a long way to
explaining the squeaky passage to the last four and then emphatic exit to
England in a semi-final at The Oval on Wednesday.
AB de Villiers’s side only won one of four games, let’s not
forget, and started very much on the back foot with that undignified walloping
from India’s batsmen in the opening fixture at Cardiff.
They were a bit like the current UK weather ... inconsistent
and unpredictable, with spells of sunshine but then pronounced gloom or sharp
Considering the absence or desperately injury-curtailed
tournaments of several normally key players, the side needed a handful of
remaining, proven performers like De Villiers himself and Hashim Amla to shine
particularly brightly – and that just didn’t happen.
With the second semi
and then the final still to be completed, the captain had at least held onto eighth
position on the list of top runs-scorers, although he ended with that ungainly
stroke, which cost him his wicket for a duck, at The Oval.
De Villiers mustered 138 runs from the Proteas’ four games
at an average of 34.50, with just one significant innings of 70, achieved
first-up in the high-scoring loss to world No 1-ranked India. That is well
below his career ODI average of 49.82.
Almost identically, the so often metronomic Amla produced
one healthy knock, the anchoring 81 in the lone triumph over Pakistan, although
he finished with 127 runs at 31.75, which falls even more significantly short
of his wonderful career figure thus far of 55.07.
Another batsman who counts as suitably senior these days, JP
Duminy – he’s aged 29 and has now played 99 ODIs --had a tournament to truly forget
at the crease, his unusually all-at-sea little vigil in the semi only
reflecting his regular struggle for runs this month in England and Wales.
He scratched together 43 tourney runs at 10.75, although a
mitigating factor for the little left-hander, who bowled a few decent enough
stints of off-spin, was that he came into the event out of the lengthy “cold”
due to painstaking rehabilitation from a serious injury ... Duminy will quickly
restore his mojo, I am pretty sure.
Slightly less established ODI customers, like Faf du Plessis
and Colin Ingram, continued to be frustratingly enigmatic.
The left-handed Ingram’s tournament was only given a modicum
of personal respectability by one brilliant innings of 73 against West Indies
in a total of 99 runs for him at the front of the order.
He is still a bit of a selectors’ nightmare, because he has
shown on several occasions that he can play at this level, only to intersperse
big knocks with marked spells of flimsy ones.
Du Plessis? Following his Test-match heroics in Australia,
this player understandably became a popular call for installation as a regular
pick for one-day internationals as well.
It may surprise one or two people, therefore, to learn that
at least statistically, the Titans-based favourite has not fully nailed down a
slot in the shorter-form environment.
He got “in” four times and then duly got out at the
Champions Trophy, as evidenced from a lowest knock of 26 and highest of 35.
From 37 ODIs in total, Du Plessis averages a so-so 30.33,
with a best of only 72 which is really not quite good enough for someone
predominantly stationed among the top five, by my book, although his known
abilities cannot be called into question and he offers huge amounts as a sharp
The Proteas’ bowlers, meanwhile, also blew occasionally
warmish, and sometimes rather more coolish, although this department was
particularly hampered by the non-presence of some wise old heads in their
Again only one South African has made it into the top 10 for
most wickets at the event, the gradually more steely Ryan McLaren in fourth,
with his eight scalps at 18.50.
It is possibly worth asking how three bowlers from relative
minnows New Zealand could be top-tenners; more might have been expected, for
example, of the relatively seasoned Lonwabo Tsotsobe – especially as he needed
to step up his levels of responsibility with Messrs Steyn and Morkel so seldom
Tsotsobe is also the type of ODI cricketer who needs to be
bowling consistently well, given that he offers nothing with the bat and
fielding-wise is a bit like a lorry labouring up a pass with a full load.
The general observation “could have done better” may well be
emblazoned with conviction across the combined Proteas players’ performance
Boy, is there some thinking to do ...
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