In terms of automatic qualification for the 2021 World Cup, the series loss in England is a major setback, and the mental shift in the team means that what was once viewed as an achievement - claiming a win away from home against one of the sports powerhouses – has instead been replaced by regret.
“This series was in our hands twice and we let games slip,” said captain Dané van Niekerk after Friday night’s seven-wicket loss in the series decider in Canterbury.
The series statistics indicate how competitive the South Africans were. Three of the top six run-scorers were in the touring side’s ranks, while Ayabonga Khaka was the top wicket-taker with seven dismissals.
“We applied ourselves well with the bat,” said coach Hilton Moreeng in highlighting the positives his side would take from the series.
“Lizelle (Lee) was outstanding in assessing conditions and then playing the situation well,” he said about the Proteas opener, who finished the series with an aggregate of 211 runs that included a maiden ODI century in Game 2.
“Our seamers on their day used the conditions well, Ayabonga Khaka is growing in stature,” Moreeng added.
Khaka’s seven wickets came at an average of 25.28 and she has rapidly added to South Africa’s strength in the seam bowling department, backing up Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismael with her excellent control of the ball in conditions which assisted swing.
However, both Moreeng and Van Niekerk pointed out how South Africa had created moments in all the matches where they were able to put England under pressure, and failed to execute the right game plans in the last two, which proved costly.
“In the games we lost, either we start well with the bat and we don’t finish well, or we start slow, catch up and then the finishing part, how we play the last 15 overs is something we need to address as a team,” said Moreeng.
“We expect things to happen, we need to fight more for wickets,” said Van Niekerk about the side’s bowling.
“We don’t stick at it long enough when a partnership is forming; it’s as if our bowlers get bored.”
Moreeng said a key element in the side’s growth was the leadership team taking more responsibility for guiding the team through those moments when the match was in the balance.
“We saw the captain do that in the first game and in the last one; we saw England’s (Tammy) Beaumont do it on Friday, (Sarah) Taylor did it with a hundred in the second match. Our senior players need to perform those kinds of leadership roles on a more consistent basis. In my opinion we’ve caught up (with bigger teams like England), but we need to realise that when we have an opportunity we need to execute better.
“Other than that the confidence is good, even England realise we’ve caught up.” said Moreeng.
“Given enough opportunities, this team could dominate in a year’s time.”
South Africa and England will be joined by New Zealand to play in a T20 triangular series that starts in Taunton on Wednesday.@shockerhess