Johannesburg – Since Gary Kirsten took over as South Africa’s coach, the national side has won nine of 18 One Day Internationals – a 50 percent win ratio that’s indicative of a team whose thinking about the 50-over format seems muddled at the moment.
It’s clear there’s been a greater emphasis on the Test side since Kirsten’s first match in charge as coach in November 2011, but that will need to change in the coming 12 months. Firstly there is an ICC trophy available this year in the shape of the Champions Trophy and secondly there are quite a few more ODIs on South Africa’s schedule than last year.
Tuesday’s night shocking defeat to New Zealand, which gave the tourists an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three match series has put the One-Day format and South Africa’s strategy in that format firmly under the spotlight. Unlike the Test side which has a solid core of players, the one-day team at the moment seems to be all over the show.
Injuries, rotation, the need to rest certain players and the suspension of a still very new captain have made for a seemingly chaotic environment that hardly looks like providing the solid foundation needed for the challenges which lie ahead. It’s a far-cry from the composed solid structure of the Test side and it’s something Kirsten and his coaching staff need to resolve.
“In the last couple of days there’s been big talk about where we want to go and to get our percentage of wins up,” said Colin Ingram on Wednesday.
Ingram was one of the few players, who put in a decent shift in Tuesday’s disappointing defeat in Kimberley, though he also mentioned that his wicket and the shot he played to get out meant he didn’t sleep very well afterwards.
“There is massive focus on One-Day cricket. We are more focussed on number of games won (than winning series). We know if we focus on those small processes that’s what will make the difference in the long run and that’s what will take you over the line in big tournaments.”
There are six ODIs left between now and the Champions Trophy in June and in that time South Africa have to establish a more settled side – which will include bringing Jacques Kallis back to play, settling on Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel and Lonabo Tsotsobe as the fast bowling core and making AB de Villiers wicketkeeper again.
Ingram mentioned how hard it’s been for him to be ‘in and out’ of the side, though he said despite that he was clear about his role.
“Being in and out of the side has been pretty disruptive, but you can’t really complain when you’re competing with guys like Jacques Kallis, one of the greatest ever, Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith at the top of the order.
“I’m just really excited to be back and a part of the mix.”
Putting Tuesday night’s 27-run defeat down to a “few things that were out of our control,” Ingram, who made 79, said the loss was a “tough one to swallow,” while the five run outs were a mixture of bad luck but mainly a lack of awareness.
“Cricket is a hard enough game at the best of times, I don’t think it was a mental freeze. You’ve got to be more aware of what fielders are where. We have to be a lot more aware of their outstanding fielders and where they are at certain times.”
There will be changes for tomorrow evening’s final match in Potchefstroom, with Aaron Phangiso set for an ODI debut in place of Robin Peterson, who split the webbing next to the little finger on his right hand.
Dean Elar was added to the squad yesterday as cover after Amla was ruled out of the match with a strained right quad. – The Star