Cape Town - Right now, it can’t be too easy being Dane
While several Proteas players greedily fill their socks
statistically, taking advantage of Bangladesh’s pretty severe limitations in
two formats thus far on their tour here, the international-rookie seamer could
be described as the one glaring opposite to the trend.
Paterson, in his first two exposures to one-day
international cricket after a few prior Twenty20 appearances, found the going
tough personally despite successive, thumping home wins at both Kimberley and
Already 28 and well bedded-down in domestic cricket for the
Cobras, ODI success hasn’t exactly come roaring his way yet: 0/69 in nine overs
on debut in the Northern Cape city, and then 1/67 in 8.5 at Paarl on Wednesday.
So he is travelling at an average of closer to eight than
seven runs to the over against the modest foes, which doesn’t seem a
particularly healthy sign for him.
Indeed, there will be those (himself included, even?) who
will be yearning for his transfer to the two-game T20 international combat; it
is the format that seems rather closer to his forte.
But stranger things have happened than for a particular
bowler to have a torrid start to his ODI life and turn it all around, so it is
probably too early to start pigeon-holing Paterson as a specialist for the
shortest brand of the game for SA.
Just for example, when that often fearsome Australian fast
bowler Mitchell Johnson was first blooded in the ODI environment back in
2005/06, he travelled for 9-0-64-0 on debut against New Zealand in Christchurch,
and then bowled a short-lived three overs (0/28) as Graeme Smith and AB de
Villiers got hold of him in a merciless way a few weeks onward at Centurion.
But the left-arm slingshot went on to grab 239 wickets at 25
in a generous, 153-cap ODI career.
Paterson has already shown off his death skills, in
particular, in the T20 international landscape, where constantly “mixing it up”
can be both necessary and rewarding - he put an encouraging lid on England’s
late charge in his last T20 game for the Proteas at Cardiff in June, where he
earned figures of 4/32 in his four overs.
If anything, however, his first stabs at ODIs have only
served as reminders that you have to put in a more pronounced, educated front-end
shift as well, and also keep things simpler at times to curb the scoring rate.
There’s been some bad luck involved, too: just for one
thing, daytime matches in the often sun-baked, cloudless backwaters of
Kimberley and Paarl don’t hugely suit Paterson’s skiddy strengths.
He tends to come into his own, especially in the wickets
column, in cooler, often coastal conditions where the ball nips around a bit
and ideally under floodlights as well.
True pace is not a hallmark of Paterson, so batsmen are
often prepared to smack him quite fearlessly through the line on “belters”.
And they say that when it rains it pours ... Paterson’s
figures over the past few days have hardly been helped by missed chances off
his bowling, and the inevitable instances of decent yorkers and the like being
inside-edged for boundaries instead of disturbing the timber.
He may have another - possibly reputation-saving - shot at
restoring his SA credentials in the 50-overs fray on Sunday, when the now
dead-rubber third match against the Bangladeshis is played at Buffalo Park; the
current Proteas squad is not exactly teeming with recognised opening bowlers,
given that half a dozen or more top names are out injured.
Paterson is clearly not lacking in belief or big-match
temperament; his calmness and enterprise at the death phase in T20 matches
arguably proves that, so don’t dismiss the possibility that he comes good in
But he might also note the well-meaning advice in SuperSport
commentary on Wednesday from Shaun Pollock and Eric Simons.
Pollock, South Africa’s all-time, runaway leading
wicket-taker in ODIs, observed: “He’s just got to learn to construct an ODI
spell a little better ... in the last couple of overs you can focus mainly on
yorkers, but this is not four-overs cricket.”
Simons, meanwhile, offered these sage observations: “I’d
like to see more consistency (from Paterson) ... I haven’t seen Plan A for long
enough; he’s been switching just too much to Plan B.
“Twenty20 cricket does that to you - it’s a game where you
need more importantly to try to be a step ahead a lot of the time.
“In a 50-overs game I would like to see him hit a line and
length and then force batsmen into taking him on.
“There’s been too much variation. (He must) aim to be
simpler and ‘hit the bails’ more ... that kind of length.”
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