at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Nottingham - The problem has been easy to identify, the solution is easy to explain too - score more runs - executing it, now that’s another matter.
South Africa know that in order to win the final one-day international against England and thereby tie the series at 2-2, they need to bat better than they did in London. Wayne Parnell mentioned it several times on Tuesday: “We haven’t scored enough runs, it’s as simple as that.”
Totals of 211 at The Oval and 220 at Lord’s regardless of the difficulties of the surface - and South Africa refused to use the pitches as an excuse in either game - are just insufficient in the modern age of 50-over cricket where the T20 format has changed the mindset of batsmen. Inevitably there were questions about Jacques Kallis and how the team would have performed were he to have played here. But Parnell was having none of it.
“If he was here and we were 2-1 down then what would people be saying? And now with him not here, and we’re 2-1 down they’re saying that he should be here. We saw what happened in Southampton, we got the runs on the board and put them under pressure.”
So it’s over to the batsmen then this evening at a ground where four years ago, South Africa were bowled out for 83 at the back end of a tour where the efforts required to win the Test series saw the energy for the remainder of the tour decrease rapidly.
It’s hard to pinpoint a specific reason for South Africa’s poor showing in the last two matches. There were some awful shots - Graeme Smith - poor judgement by AB de Villiers and JP Duminy, while the inexperience of Dean Elgar has seen him battle to turn over the strike through the middle period of the innings.
They’d have analysed those dismissals, but there’s also the problem of being too careful.
It may not have appeared that way in this series, but Smith is a very good puller, so there’s no point in asking him to “put the shot away”. Likewise, De Villiers is a naturally attacking player, and asking him to just “hang around” until the last 10 overs will be of no benefit to South Africa either. It could be as relatively simple as Parnell put it yesterday - “we just have to bat better.”
England, meanwhile, have shown remarkable consistency in the ODI format this year. They beat Pakistan in the UAE earlier in the year, and then overcame the West Indies and Australia before the Tests against South Africa. They’ve also dominated South Africa in the ODI format - stretching back to the 2007 World Cup, the two sides have played 16 matches, with England winning 10 and South Africa just two.
Those numbers don’t stack up well for the Proteas, but on several occasions on this trip they’ve shown themselves capable of drawing on vast reservoirs of determination to get over the line.
Albie Morkel is not expected to play a part in today’s match and though he is fully fit, the management have made the T20s the priority for him. Meanwhile Jonathan Trott, who played no part in England’s practice session yesterday, is likely to sit out the final ODI with a bruised right hand. His place is expected to go to Jonny Bairstow.