Hendricks, Markram need to keep those pads on ...
DAVID Miller surely didn’t mean his last line at his post-match media engagement on Friday to appear to be a stab at his fellow Proteas batsmen, but gosh, it kind of did.
“We’ve got to continue pushing forward as a bowling attack and try to get them (out) below 200 in the next game.” Yikes.
Is he saying the Proteas batting line-up can’t chase over 200? It sounds like it. It looked a bit like that too on Friday in Adelaide where they came up short pursuing Australia’s 232 for what would have been a series win.
Miller did point out that South Africa’s bowling unit, a match-winning quartet upon whom’s shoulders rest the overwhelming burden of the team’s One-Day strategy, could have done a better job restricting Australia to a total somewhere in the region of 200. “(Australia) dragged that last partnership out, and if you want to be critical that’s where did lose the game, although at the same time we were also 60/4,” said Miller.
Indeed South Africa have been a little casual in how they’ve allowed the Australian tailenders to tag on runs – 45 for the last two wickets in Perth in the first ODI and 44 in Adelaide – but Miller’s wrong, that’s not where the Proteas “lost” the game. They lost, because they fell into a hole at 68/4, three batsmen gifting their wickets to the opposition.
If the strategy of playing all of Dale Steyn, outstanding again in the second match, Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir is to work then South Africa’s top order needs to be far more disciplined. Exposing South Africa’s tail as happened on Friday night, when the target was so mediocre, was downright irresponsible.
Reeza Hendricks, the only top order batsman to fall to a good delivery on Friday night, and Aiden Markram need to stamp their authority in their respective positions. South Africa’s selectors have nowhere else to turn really; AB de Villiers has stated he will stay retired, Colin Ingram and Rilee Rossouw won’t be giving up their Kolpak status.
No one in domestic cricket has done enough to warrant a look from the selectors and that in some ways decreases the pressure on Markram and Hendricks.
The World Cup increases the pressure though as will their own demands of themselves.
One of them will sit out once Hashim Amla returns but both could still go as part of the World Cup squad; one as a starter the other ‘on the bench’ as the back-up batsman.
But this is the time for them to shine. Both Du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson have said that experimenting stops after this tour of Australia and that for the home series’ against Pakistan and Sri Lanka they want the players slotted into the positions they will play at the World Cup – to get acclimatised and all that.
What they need now is for the batsmen to show some responsibility and find some form because it all can’t be about “trying to get them out for below 200” every game.