‘NZ series will be the real test’
While impressed with the Proteas in their 5-0 demolition of Sri Lanka in the recent ODI series, former Proteas coach Ray Jennings would like to see a tougher series against New Zealand. There are five areas he’d like to see improved ahead of the ICC Champ
The opening bowler situation “[Kagiso] Rabada is a wickettaking, momentum-moving bowler. He has to take the new ball to move the game forward by taking wickets in the first 10 overs. The other guys who need to be considered are [Vernon] Philander and [Morné] Morkel. [Chris] Morris to me isn’t partnering well with Rabada. I’d prefer someone who just bottles things up and gives Rabada the option to actually move the game forward.
“So, we still need to find that partnership up front. Morris is a good bowler and takes wickets, but he’s a little on the expensive side. He hasn’t shown me he bowls up front, but he takes wickets. Good players will take the runs off him, but won’t lose their wickets.
“Some of the performances and figures the bowlers came up with in the Sri Lankan series are a little unrealistic. To me, Philander would be the top choice. He doesn’t have a good bouncer like Morris, but he hits good areas, which makes him a good combination with Rabada.”
The lower middle order
“The problem with the batting would be in the numbers six, seven and eight. In that power-hitting area, we haven’t seen enough of the South African players because of the top order getting so many runs.
“The Sri Lankans weren’t able to get wickets up front, which created that middle period, where Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis dominated.
“Against good sides, who should be taking one or two wickets up front, they would rely on that lower middle order to show them what they can do. We don’t know how good the guys batting at six, seven and eight are.”
The bowlers’ reaction to pressure
“From the bowling point of view, the Sri Lankans did not put enough pressure on the bowlers, and the short ball was so effective, a wicket invariably fell when it was bowled. That slowed the run rate.
“The bowlers were not under pressure to see how good their skills were, other than for a short period of time in Cape Town, where they scored 109 in 10 overs and still lost by 40 runs.
“Good sides would never lose from that position. Sometimes, you need to be put under pressure and to be able to say we came through a 50-50 game. New Zealand will create those games.
“With regards to the death bowling, the Sri Lankans didn’t score enough runs for it to come into operation to say, ‘those bowlers have good enough skill’.”
The old ‘number seven problem’
“I would think the number seven spot would be contested by Morris and Wayne Parnell, and I would take the guy who’s bowling better. Parnell can hit the ball; Morris is probably a bit looser with the bat, but he can hit bigger sixes.
“When you look at the Sri Lanka series, maybe Morris is the better option because his short ball is a good weapon and, with his power hitting, he doesn’t have to build an innings.
“Parnell can play both roles. When he gets on in the 30th over, he has the ability to knock it around and build partnerships. He’s also left-handed, which is different. I think he bowls consistently in more areas, but I don’t see him bowl consistently in 10 overs. In 10 overs, you have to deliver two or three spells that are there or thereabouts.
“He seems to be brilliant on the one and loses it on the other. But the other spell is so bad that you don’t know what he’s thinking. If he can bottle that up, you’ve got a quality cricketer who’s different.”
Shamsi’s readiness for battle
“[Tabraiz] Shamsi to me should have been used a lot more – enough for him to be considered one of the five bowlers, even though we don’t really know who the five bowlers are. He’s a wicket-taking guy and there might be a period where you need to spin it.
“He’s going to be untested going into New Zealand and the International Cricket Council Champions Trophy.”
COOL RUNNINGS Kagiso Rabada is good at what he does, but former Proteas coach Ray Jennings feels he needs a bowling partner who will complement him better
WORRIED Ray Jennings thinks there is some tweaking that needs to be done