Proteas’ coaching staff facing tough decisions

PROTEAS’ coaching staff have a tough call to make – to either go with bowler Ottneil Baartman or continue with Tabraiz Shamsi on attack this afternoon. | AFP

PROTEAS’ coaching staff have a tough call to make – to either go with bowler Ottneil Baartman or continue with Tabraiz Shamsi on attack this afternoon. | AFP

Published Jun 29, 2024


STANDING between the Proteas and their first major silverware is India, who they meet at the Kensington Oval this afternoon (4.30pm SA). Independent Newspapers’ Ongama Gcwabe looks at three things South Africa needs to get right to win the match.

Decision-making – spin or all-pace attack?

One tough selection decision will need to be made today. Does South Africa continue with Tabraiz Shamsi over Ottneil Baartman?

They have played India numerous times in the recent past and each encounter reveals that spin is barely effective. Coming from the subcontinent where spin is abundant, the Indian batters are almost immune to spin. Even during this World Cup, only Rashid Khan, who is simply a generational spinner, has been able to give the Indian batters problems.

Frankly, South Africa doesn’t have a spinner of Khan’s calibre.

However, when it comes to pace, accurate seam and swing bowling, cracks start to show in this Indian batting unit. This then calls for Baartman to lace up his boots today.

After all, South Africa does need a wicket-to-wicket bowler, one that can close the game for the team – and Baartman plays that role better than most.

Make the new ball count

India has a ruthless batting unit spearheaded by the opening duo of captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, two legends of the game with an abundance of experience.

Although Kohli hasn’t been in the best of form, Sharma is fresh from a 41-ball 92 against Australia, where he made light work of a serious bowling attack.

This means that the Proteas pace attack has a very small window of opportunity against this opening pair. The new ball bowlers, Marco Jansen and Kagiso Rabada, will have to be pinpoint accurate against this Indian batting unit. We need to bowl full enough to allow the ball to swing through the air and not be afraid to get driven down the ground up front.

Australia’s Josh Hazlewood took the new ball against India and bowled 10 dot-balls in the first powerplay, including a wicket, and that was all down to accuracy from the quick.

The template is there for the Proteas quicks to follow in what is the biggest game in the history of South African men’s cricket.

Go all out with bat in hand

Similarly, the Indian bowling unit is really good. Arshdeep Singh and Jasprit Bumrah take the new ball and three spinners in Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel make up the unit.

Looking at how various batting units approach their innings against India, they tend to be too cautious and that’s where their downfall begins.

South Africa needs to be smart today, but not give them too much respect. Almost no one is expecting this batting unit to come out guns-blazing in their first-ever final, more so against such a prolific Indian bowling attack.

But it could be that the recipe to the first-ever world title is in batting freely and fearlessly.

From Quinton de Kock and Reeza Hendricks at the top of the order to Marco Jansen at number seven, we need to be ruthless with bat in hand and bat India to the ground.