Hawkeye view of five areas Proteas need to improve in order to bloom
CAPE TOWN - The Proteas returned to action after eight months in hibernation on Friday at Newlands. Quinton de Kock’s side may have lost on the night, but there was sufficient evidence that the team is progressing under new coach Mark Boucher.
IOL Sports’ Zaahier Adams examines five areas the Proteas need to improve if they are to level the series at Boland Park (2.30pm) on Sunday.
New convenor of selectors Victor Mpitsang has endured a baptism of fire in putting together the first XI of his tenure this week after the withdrawal of all-rounders Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo.
However, Mpitsang and Boucher simply have to find a way of getting Anrich Nortje into the starting line-up. If a top-order batsman needs to be sacrificed then so be it, but there’s no way Nortje can be carrying drinks in the form he is in. “It’s tough on Anrich [because] it’s a balancing act with our team. But he is bowling really well so we are expecting him to make inroads soon,” former captain Faf du Plessis said.
2. Timing is everything Quinny
De Kock is often praised for being “smart”, “streetwise” and a bit of “maverick” in his decision-making. It is certainly an attitude that needs to be encouraged. However, when he gets it wrong – like he did on Friday evening – he needs to learn from his mistakes. There is no fault in trying to squeeze in an over from part-timer Heinrich Klaasen, but not when arguably two of the world’s most dangerous batsmen Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow are at the crease. “Small things in the field we could have done differently, match awareness,” De Kock acknowledged after the game.
3. Golden George
George Linde enjoyed a dream T20I debut. There was a six, a four, a catch and a couple of wickets. Not cheap ones too, but Jason Roy and World No 1 T20 batsman Dawid Malan. With the T20 World Cup in India next year, Linde needs to be backed all the way through to the jamboree even when the seam-bowling all-rounders return. “George [Linde] has bowled really well in the nets, happy for him, a good day for him,” De Kock said.
4. Warm-ups are over
South Africa may have been in charge of the Newlands encounter until about six overs to go of England’s chase and would ultimately have felt that they pushed Eoin Morgan’s team close by taking the match to the last over. Considering the Proteas had not played together for 265 days in comparison to a side that had enjoyed a full summer of cricket at home, it was an impressive effort. But rest assured, England were not operating at optimum levels either. This is a monster T20 outfit England have assembled, with batting and bowling options aplenty, and Morgan expects a much higher standard from his charges than what was delivered at Newlands. Expect England to raise their game by at least 10% in Paarl. If South Africa doesn’t match that and equally lift their performance levels, they are going to be left behind. “Pleasing because we were average, apart from two or three guys. Not doom and gloom, nice to start with a win, but we need to be doing the right things,” Morgan warned.
5. Rassie has to get out of the starting blocks quicker
Prior to the series Rassie van der Dussen spoke about increasing his intensity during the early part of his innings. At Newlands, he was six after 10 balls before moving to 13 after 13. He was eventually dismissed for 37 off 28 balls at a strike-rate of 132. In comparison, England’s No 4 Bairstow was 11 off 10 but then 25 off 14 balls before eventually finishing with 86 not out off 48 at a strike-rate of 179.16! Van der Dussen knows what he needs to do. Now he just needs go out there and do it because the Proteas require greater dynamism in the middle-order.