Zimbabwe in SA

Rusty ahead in ‘death’ duel

2010-10-17 15:56
Rusty Theron celebrates after taking his maiden five-wicket haul. (Gallo Images)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Potchefstroom – Rusty Theron’s maiden five-wicket haul in only his second one-day international at Senwes Park here on Sunday has turned up the heat on Charl Langeveldt for a death-bowling spot in South Africa’s World Cup 2011 squad.

With all of presently recuperating Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Jacques Kallis hopefully back in action long ahead of that critical event, a few Proteas seamers rather toiling against Zimbabwe in the three-match MTN series will have been elbowed out of the picture by then.

And it seems unlikely, when you do your sums, that South Africa will have the luxury of taking both to the Subcontinent where a well-stocked spin department will also be essential.

So young gun Theron, 25, may effectively be competing with grand master Langeveldt, almost 36, for a World Cup ticket.

Both have played in the first two ODIs thus far, where Zimbabwe’s batsmen have prospered to a surprising degree despite the glaring deficiencies of their own pace arsenal.

On Sunday, batting first this time, they posted another fairly beefy 268 all out, to add to their 287 for six in the losing Bloemfontein cause – albeit that this is again a beautiful pitch for batting and the Proteas’ reply began at a rollicking rate through the efforts of Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla.

But each time, revealingly, Theron has eclipsed Langeveldt in the field, despite the fact that this is just his second appearance while the latter boasts 70 ODI caps.

Both fast-medium bowlers travelled for just over six runs an over in the Free State fixture, but the important difference was that Theron grabbed three wickets along the way to Langeveldt’s none.

And on Sunday, before a far healthier crowd soaking up the bright sunshine, the flame-haired Warriors customer showed even more forcefully why he is regarded as a multi-skilled, wicket-taking factor in the limited-overs arena.

His analysis of 8.2-0-44-5 indicated that the rookie took a bit of “tap” once more, albeit less so than on his debut on Friday night, but the wickets column said a lot about his pleasing ability not to get flustered and stick determinedly to his task – marked as it was by his deft changes of pace to compensate for the lack of movement off the track.

Langeveldt, in fairness, got two important scalps himself, including that of Zimbabwe’s top-scorer Tatenda Taibu for 78 when he was not far away from the likelihood of a third ODI century – both of the wicketkeeper-batsman’s previous tons have come against the
Proteas, at Harare in 2007 and Benoni in 2009.

But the younger man, who also spears in convincing yorkers with the kind of regularity the Cape Cobras stalwart has done for years, just appears to have his nose in front despite the international season being in its relative infancy.

Theron now boasts eight wickets in two matches at an average of 13.25, against Langeveldt’s career haul of 95 at 29.89 and an economy rate heading a little the wrong way at 5.05.

Also counting against Langeveldt at the moment is that his 2010 calendar year has not been auspicious in the ODI arena.

Injuries have disrupted his quest for rhythm and consistency from time to time – that is perhaps a concern in itself – and he has leaked too many runs in his seven appearances for comfort.

He was severely dealt with by India’s batsmen in Jaipur (10-0-48-1) and especially Gwalior (10-0-70-0), did not set the West Indies tour alight after a promising start, and now has analyses of 10-0-63-0 and 9-0-49-2 against South Africa’s limited neighbours.

Is “Langers” losing his lustre as the ravages of age advance on him?

Read more on:    zim in sa  |  rusty theron  |  charl langeveldt

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