Simons says Proteas are wary of Sri Lanka’s bowling variations in T20 World Cup opener

Proteas bowling coach Eric Simons has said he is happy with the bowlers and particularly Anrich Nortjé through his observation during the IPL. Photo: BackpagePix

Proteas bowling coach Eric Simons has said he is happy with the bowlers and particularly Anrich Nortjé through his observation during the IPL. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 2, 2024



Clarity and understanding of tactics will be a model used by the Proteas bowlers in preparation for the T20 World Cup.

Responsibility and ownership of their own game, without leaning towards instructions, could turn out to be the recipe to success.

If players go away from a tournament more complete cricketers in terms of their own games, relying more on themselves and less on coaching, that would be a great success, said a confident Proteas bowling coach Eric Simons when addressing the media about their preparation ahead of their opening clash against Sri Lanka in New York tomorrow (4.30pm SA time start).

In an era where the game has shifted more towards the batters, especially in the T20 format, scores of 200 and more were seen as winning totals not long ago.

But they have quickly become chaseable scores without even having to do a lot.

Simons said he is happy with the bowlers, and particularly Anrich Nortjé, through his observation during the Indian Premier League.

“One has to have a look at what aspect of bowling is working, and what isn’t. In T20 cricket, it is always dangerous to always just look at numbers and say that it’s an indication of how someone has bowled,” the former Proteas head coach said.

“One of the things we do well as a unit is our tactical planning, and from that perspective, if he gets the ball in the right area, he will be fine.

“It’s an exciting time to be a bowler. Batsmen are playing with a lot of freedom and aggression … it will not be the same as the IPL, where the impact player made a massive difference to how the way the guys batted.

“There are still some batsmen that will still play with the same freedom, but it won’t be the same as the IPL.”

Simons believes the attack on bowlers is more of an excitement than a challenge.

The requirement is pretty simple – the accuracy and execution, and knowing what you want to do, and how you want to do it, which boils down to being smart with your tactics.

Simons has worked closely with some of the players in the Sri Lankan side during his time with the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, and the unknown conditions and the danger posed by some of their well travelled players in the squad makes them a dangerous side to play against.

“One of the things we will need to understand is the conditions. There is a warm-up game we will look at today (yesterday) – the more the conditions suit us the better for us,” the former SA all-rounder said.

“The more they suit them, the tougher they become as opponents. We don’t know what this wicket (in New York) will offer; it’s going to be new for everybody, but it will suit the team that adapts the quickest.

— ICC (@ICC) June 1, 2024

“They are a dangerous unit. They have got some great innovative skills among their bowling unit. Someone like Matheesha (Pathirana), who I have worked with in the IPL, has got a round-arm action and has become pretty accurate with his yorker.

“Maheesh (Theekshana) has also got a lot of variations.

“From a batting perspective, they play with aggression and freedom.

“In this format, as we know better than most teams, you do not take any opposition lightly. Sri Lanka are a formidable opposition, and we will make sure we arrive at the game ready for what the conditions or their team throw at us.”