JOHANNESBURG – Dane van Niekerk’s team were on a hiding to nothing in their One-Day series with Bangladesh; win handsomely as they did and it was a case of ‘it’s only Bangladesh,’ lose - or even have a tightly contested series - and the knives would certainly have been out.
As it was, they routed the Bangladeshis 5-0, the wins earned with varying degrees of dominance and while a significant aid to their confidence ahead of a big tour to England next month, stand in coach Salieg Nackerdien was keen to point out areas where improvements must be made in order to be successful in England.
“The goal (for the series) was obviously to win, but we also wanted to dominate, and we wanted different players to be ‘player of the match,’ and we accomplished that, but there are also still areas where we fell short, where we need to improve especially when we come up against England,” said Nackerdien, who stood in for head coach Hilton Moreeng, due to a family bereavement.
With the bat, Nackerdien said the lack of any individual hundreds was disappointing, while the inability to put on a partnership higher than 85, was another area of concern.
“I felt we could have used more common sense and pushed on better when we were on top with the bat. We had a couple of good opening stands, a couple of 70s and 60s, but we want those to be better,” Nackerdien explained. “We had a few too many soft dismissals I felt.”
Nevertheless Lizelle Lee, who finished with the Player of the Series award with an aggregate of 244 runs and Laura Wolvaardt, seemed to have established a formidable combination at the top of the order which will provide significant confidence for a middle order that is gradually starting to improve against spin bowling.
“It’s one area the players worked very hard on, and it was pleasing to see us play spin better this series, hopefully again we keep improving.”
Once more South Africa’s bowling was excellent. They failed to bowl out the Bangladeshis just once in the series, and it is the real strength around which their challenge in England and later in the World T20 will be built.
“There’s so much variety, two good quicks up front (Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismael), two good change bowlers (Aya Khaka and Masabata Klaas) and then lots of spin (Dane van Niekerk, Sune Luus and Raisibe Ntozakhe)...it’s a case of utilising them properly at the most opportune moments.”
Ntozakhe was the top wicket-taker in the series with eight victims, a pleasing return for the 21-year-old off-spinner from Alexandra. “Her consistency is so much better. We have attacking spin options, what we’ve wanted from her is 10 over for 30, build up the dots and in doing so, that pressure will bring wickets.”
SA start a three game T20 series against the Bangladeshis in Kimberley tomorrow, which Nackerdien said would be the launchpad for their World T20 campaign: “There are combinations we want to test, not just here but also in the triangular series in England, and then again later against the West Indies before we go into the World T20.
“There are some tactical options we want to try out; we have a strong bowling unit, but we don’t want to become too predictable. We must not be afraid to innovate, and it’s a good time to try these tactics before the World Cup.”