Zim tour fails to an­swer SA’s bat­ting ques­tions

Sunday Times - - Sport Cricket - By KHANYISO TSHWAKU

● Prob­a­bly the only pos­i­tive about the T20 se­ries be­tween SA and Zimbabwe that con­cludes to­day in Benoni has been the qual­ity of the pitches.

Kim­ber­ley and Bloem­fontein in par­tic­u­lar had play­ing sur­faces that left the bats­men guess­ing. Whether they would be bet­ter for red-ball cricket will never be known, but they asked un­com­fort­able ques­tions with re­gards to SA’s bat­ting.

Not that any sort of con­clu­sion has been reached, es­pe­cially when deal­ing with spin.

Bran­don Mavuta isn’t in the Adil Rashid or Kuldeep Ya­dav class of wrist-spin, but the po­ten­tial is there. The young leg-spin­ner asked un­com­fort­able ques­tions of SA’s bat­ting that will reap­pear at next year’s World Cup in Eng­land.

With the flat sur­faces and smaller grounds, pace off the ball with de­cent turn will be the go-to.

The two top ODI sides, Eng­land and In­dia, have al­ready set­tled on their spin­ners.

The same could be said of SA, es­pe­cially with Im­ran Tahir’s per­for­mances.

This was only Zimbabwe, but con­fi­dence can’t be bought from a store. It’s gained through the reg­u­lar col­lec­tion of wick­ets, which leads to in­creased trust in an in­di­vid­ual’s game.

At 39, Tahir knows his game in­side out and has en­sured the Pro­teas bowl­ing at­tack re­volves around him.

This sounds weird from a South African per­spec­tive, but spin is the axis that South Africa’s bowl­ing at­tack re­volves around. Room still re­mains for qual­ity fast bowl­ing, but on pitches that of­fer rea­son­able bounce and pace, but lit­tle in terms of lat­eral move­ment, pace­men can be re­duced to can­non fod­der.

Dale Steyn, Lungi Ngidi and Kag­iso Rabada are all world-class bowlers, but whether they can be played in the same 11 re­mains to be seen.

Next month’s ODI se­ries against Aus­tralia may pro­vide some an­swers, but there’s also the is­sue of es­tab­lish­ing the all-rounder peck­ing or­der.

Thir­teen ODIs and the Mo­men­tum one­day cup early next year now re­main as the only trial dates the Pro­teas have from a depth-test­ing per­spec­tive.

The mid­dle or­der again re­mains a sore spot that the Zimbabwe se­ries didn’t come close to sort­ing out, but the spin hi­er­ar­chy or­dered it­self nicely. It’s a pity the weak Zim­bab­wean bat­ting hasn’t tested Tahir.

Twist and TurnIm­ran Tahir, left, and Bran­don Mavuta have es­tab­lished them­selves as their teams’ pre­mier spin­ners. Mavuta has given Zimbabwe hope de­spite their dis­ap­point­ing bat­ting.

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