Test cricket can be a brutal sport. Although it’s a team game, the focus can shine harshly on the individual. For debutant Rory Kleinveldt, the glare was unforgiving at times against Australia at the Gabba last weekend.
Surprisingly brought into the team at the 11th hour as the fourth specialist seamer, South Africa’s bowling plans went awry when their pacemen failed to hit their straps after an encouraging start.
To make matters worse, JP Duminy, their designated off-spinner for the seven left-handers in the Australian team, ruptured an Achilles at the end of the first day and was forced out of the match, and the tour.
South Africa reached an early high, with Morné Morkel and Dale Steyn reducing Australia to 40/3, but that was as good as it got for the tourists as Michael Clarke, Ed Cowan and Mike Hussey smashed hundreds on a placid pitch in the home team’s first-innings total of 565/5 declared.
Kleinveldt had a poor start, bowling too short in his first three-over spell, when he was punished for 27 runs. He came back the following day and performed a little better, but contributed a worrying 12 no-balls to a total count of 23, and finished as the most expensive of the main-line bowlers with 0/97 in 21 overs.
“It was tough,” the 29-year-old Capetonian conceded manfully. “I wish I could have done a little bit better. But that’s how it went, so I must pick myself up and prepare well for the next Test.”
Kleinveldt has not left Brisbane for the four-day break like the majority of the South African squad. “I’m not a fisherman,” he smiled, saying that he might play a bit of golf in the city this week.
Asked what he made of the break, which has been picked on by some newspapers here as an indication of the Proteas’ over-confidence, Kleinveldt replied: “I’m new to the squad, obviously, and I don’t know what to make of it. I’m just enjoying the break.”
Like most of the Proteas’ players and their team management, Kleinveldt said he was surprised by the lack of pace in the Gabba wicket and the “tennis ball” bounce. “It looked green the day before, and we thought it would go around, so choosing four (specialist) seamers seemed the way to go.”
Kleinveldt was mystified why he bowled so many no-balls. “I didn’t bowl one no-ball in Sydney (in the tour match against Australia A the week before the Test, when he impressed with 2/60 in 23 overs), and I don’t usually bowl many no-balls back home.
“Perhaps if we’d had an opportunity to bowl in the middle before the game, we could have worked something out; it’s pretty difficult to work out a problem during the game.”
In general, however, Kleinveldt didn’t try to offer any excuses for himself or the other bowlers. “We just didn’t execute our plans and we didn’t bowl well in partnerships. If one guy bowled a decent spell, the other bowler leaked runs at the other end.”
Asked about how South Africa would overcome the problem that Michael Clarke’s batting posed, Kleinveldt said the team management and the players would have to “think out of the box” and work out a Plan B and C if Plan A failed.
“Like organising another run-out at the non-striker’s end,” a journalist suggested (pointing to the dismissal of Ed Cowan, who was the only Australian wicket to fall on the fourth day) to general laughter. Kleinveldt had the grace to join in, but deep down, it must have hurt. – Cape Times