Proteas coach Gibson mulls last-minute tweaks ahead of World Cup opener
JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s bowlers got nothing out of Sunday’s second pre-World Cup warm-up game after rain ended play in Bristol.
Despite all the recent talk about a hot and dry English summer, South Africa’s first week in the UK before the tournament has mostly been chilly and the forecasts for Thursday’s opening game against England are for overcast conditions at The Oval, with a small chance of rain.
South Africa’s bowlers got through almost 43 overs against Sri Lanka last week, however Lungi Ngidi’s initial spell was the only real highlight.
Having been sidelined with a side strain for the last two months, Ngidi knew the importance of that encounter and perhaps put a bit more into his performance just to reassure himself, which is understandable.
The rest of the bowlers, bar Dale Steyn, have had a lot more overs under their belt recently, so taking it easier than they would in a proper tournament is also natural.
While there were concerns about lines and lengths not being what they should be, Proteas coach Ottis Gibson would not have been particularly perturbed about statistics.
There will be some worry about Steyn, just as there has been since he returned from the Indian Premier League about a month ago. While he’s been declared fit for the tournament, whether he will be fit for the Thursday’s opener is still doubtful.
When the team departed, Gibson seemed happy enough that Steyn could miss South Africa’s first three matches, which take place over six days. Any longer, however, and even the ever-cool Barbadian is going to start fretting.
He will be conducting a press conference in London this morning, where greater clarity about Steyn’s readiness will almost certainly be a topic.
Quite which direction South Africa will take should Steyn not be available will most likely be determined by the two practice sessions on at The Oval on today and tomorrow.
Had the weather been warm and dry they may have considered starting with left-arm wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, but if the forecast of overcast conditions holds, then it will come down to playing the extra seamer.
Chris Morris, a late replacement for the injured Anrich Nortje, conceded 31 runs in four overs, while Dwaine Pretorius, the other all-rounder, picked up one wicket and conceded 34 runs in five overs.
Morris is the quickest of the pair, but lacks Pretorius’s control, while both would add some important depth to South Africa’s batting order, as they showed in that warm-up game against the Sri Lankans.@shockerhess