JP makes right mix cricket pitch

Fear­less cricket, yes, but not fool­hardy ...

The Sunday Independent - - FRONT PAGE - STU­ART HESS stu­art.hess@inl.co.za

SOUTH Africa have placed a lot of em­pha­sis this past week on the style they want to play against Zim­babwe, but on the eve of the first of three one­day in­ter­na­tion­als, stand-in skip­per JP Du­miny of­fered a re­minder that sub­stance was cru­cial also.

The Proteas didn’t stum­ble upon this new method­ol­ogy of play­ing, i.e. be­ing more ag­gres­sive only since Ot­tis Gib­son ar­rived; it’s some­thing they’ve been at­tempt­ing for many years, go­ing back to Mickey Arthur’s tenor and his catch-phrase “brave cricket”.

It’s just that Gib­son seems to have re­minded the play­ers, es­pe­cially the newer re­cruits, about it again. It’s per­haps some­thing they’ve taken a lit­tle bit of time to adapt to. It was all a bit ten­ta­tive against In­dia last sum­mer when they started on this ex­per­i­men­ta­tion with play­ers’ pol­icy and they got swamped by the bril­liance of Vi­rat Kohli, and In­dia’s very good spin­ners.

In Sri Lanka, they started to play with the style Gib­son and skip­per Faf du Plessis be­lieve best suits them – for the first four matches at least. They played with pur­pose with the bat, Du­miny out­stand­ing. With the ball Kag­iso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi weren’t in­ter­ested in lim­it­ing op­po­si­tion runs, rather in tak­ing wick­ets, and that was the same for Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Ma­haraj when he played.

But on the eve of the open­ing match of the se­ries against Zim­babwe that starts in Kim­ber­ley to­day, Du­miny, skip­per­ing the team while Faf du Plessis re­cov­ers from a shoul­der ail­ment, said it was im­por­tant the young SA side, find the right bal­ance in their method. “Fear­less is a strong word; there is al­ways an el­e­ment of fear or doubt about what you do. It’s about be­ing con­sis­tent in what you’re try­ing to do and find­ing that per­fect medium be­tween be­ing overly ag­gres­sive and con­ser­va­tive,” he said.

“We’ve tried a few dif­fer­ent things in terms of our style of play. This se­ries will be a con­tin­u­a­tion of that; what can we do, what we are will­ing to ex­plore and the risks we are will­ing to take, find­ing our feet with that new brand of cricket we are try­ing to play.”

That sounds more philo­soph­i­cal than it needs to be. The game is still a sim­ple one and for those play­ers in the squad push­ing for fur­ther recog­ni­tion and more op­por­tu­ni­ties later this sea­son, it’s per­haps best not to bur­den them too much with such big talk.

The Proteas will have this se­ries against their neigh­bours and the next one in Aus­tralia to con­tinue ro­tat­ing play­ers and get­ting them as com­fort­able as pos­si­ble with the style of play that the lead­er­ship wants them to play.

In terms of the com­po­si­tion of the team, Gib­son ad­mit­ted this week he still feels there are holes in the top order bat­ting and that the mid­dle order could do with some­one putting their hands up.

The two raw young all-rounders, Wi­aan Mul­der and Andile Phehluk­wayo, also need to be­come more con­sis­tent and in the case of Mul­der per­haps an op­por­tu­nity may be af­forded him to bat higher up the order than has been the case so far in his young ca­reer. The Proteas at­tack is a very strong one, and Gib­son and the se­lec­tors are keen on see­ing how dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions op­er­ate.

SQUADS

South Africa: JP Du­miny (capt), Dean El­gar, Reeza Hen­dricks, Im­ran Tahir, Chris­ti­aan Jonker, Hein­rich Klaasen, Keshav Ma­haraj, Ai­den Markram, Wi­aan Mul­der, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehluk­wayo, Kag­iso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Khaya Zondo Zim­babwe: Hamilton Masakadza (capt), Solomon Mire, Craig Ervine, Bren­dan Tay­lor, Sean Wil­liams, Peter Moor, El­ton Chigum­bura, Don­ald Tiri­pano, Kyle Jarvis, Bran­don Mavuta, Richard Ngar­ava, Ti­nashe Ka­munhukamwe, Wellington Masakadza, Ryan Mur­ray, Tendai Chatara

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