Smith says hav­ing wicket-tak­ing op­tions is key to vic­tory

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - ZAAHIER ADAMS

FOR­MER Proteas cap­tain Graeme Smith has urged the national se­lec­tors to be “ag­gres­sive” and “avoid shy­ing away from pick­ing front­line bowlers” for to­day’s ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy Group 2 opener against Sri Lanka at The Oval.

South Africa have in­cluded four all-rounders – Chris Mor­ris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehluk­wayo and Dwaine Pre­to­rius – in their squad for the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy and have re­cently played at least three in the ma­jor­ity of their ODI’s lead­ing up to the tour­na­ment.

The thought process be­hind this tac­ti­cal de­ci­sion is to lengthen the bat­ting or­der, which is set to be par­tic­u­larly cru­cial in this tour­na­ment with the lower-or­der ex­pected to con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly.

Eng­land cer­tainly showed no team should be fear­ful of chas­ing down a 300-run tar­get in the open­ing game at The Oval on Thurs­day with Joe Root’s un­beaten 133 tak­ing the hosts past Bangladesh’s 305/6 with 16 balls to spare.

Due to the power of the op­po­si­tion bat­ting units, Smith there­fore re­mains a strong be­liever that “wicket-tak­ing op­tions are key in lim­ited overs cricket”.

“The big thing for South Africa is find­ing its edge. That ag­gres­sive streak comes out when it is play­ing at its best.

“The team needs to be ag­gres­sive with its selec­tions to cre­ate that. I like the op­tion of Parnell with the new ball,” Smith told www.

“If Parnell can swing the ball and strike early, you then have guys like (Morne) Morkel to come on first change. I’ve al­ways said that wicket-tak­ing op­tions are key in lim­ited overs cricket.

“They al­low you to con­trol the game and con­trol scor­ing as a cap­tain. Hav­ing peo­ple that can knock the best play­ers over gives you the best chance of re­strict­ing sides in the mod­ern era.”

Smith does, though, be­lieve South Africa’s team has greater bal­ance now that Chris Mor­ris has emerged as a gen­uine seam bowl­ing all-rounder at No 7.

“Mor­ris has earned the right to start. He has looked a good op­tion with both bat and ball, and if the at­tack also then con­tains Kag­iso Rabada, Wayne Parnell, Morne Morkel and Im­ran Tahir, there is a very at­tack­ing na­ture to it and I be­lieve they pos­sess the abil­ity do some dam­age on most sur­faces in Eng­land,” Smith said.

“Mor­ris’s bat­ting has re­ally sur­prised me. The con­sis­tency with which he strikes the ball, some­thing we saw in the IPL as well, is cou­pled with real com­po­sure un­der pres­sure.”

AB de Vil­liers has en­joyed a good run win­ning the toss lately with the Proteas ODI skip­per elect­ing to chase in all three matches against Eng­land lead­ing up to the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy.

In the first two ODI’s – at Head­in­g­ley and Southamp­ton’s Ageas Bowl – it back­fired though as Eng­land posted over 330 to win both games and seal the se­ries.

How­ever, at Lord’s in the dead- rub­ber, South Africa’s at­tack found their rhythm to re­duce the hosts to 20/6 within the first five overs.

Although Eng­land re­cov­ered through a half-cen­tury from Jonny Bairstow, it was still nowhere near enough as JP Du­miny and De Vil­liers took South Africa home by seven wick­ets.

How­ever, should cap­tain De Vil­liers win the toss again to­day, Smith wants South Africa to put Sri Lanka un­der pres­sure through runs on the score­board.

“I’d think South Africa will be look­ing to bat first and put runs on the board. As much as The Oval is usu­ally a tough ground to de­fend on, in my play­ing days I al­ways felt your best chance of beat­ing sub-con­ti­nent teams was to get big runs in the first in­nings,” he ex­plained.

“The Sri Lanka at­tack, even with La­sith Malinga, isn’t what it was when it con­tained the likes of Chaminda Vaas and Mut­tiah Mu­ral­i­daran.

Sri Lanka’s strength will be try­ing to score runs first up and squeeze teams. It has al­ways found a way to put you un­der pres­sure as a bat­ting side, and again as a team – it al­ways seems to find a way to be com­pet­i­tive at the big tour­na­ments.”

● Rain yes­ter­day came to the res­cue of fal­ter­ing Aus­tralia who were struggling in pur­suit of a tough tar­get set by New Zealand be­fore their Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy Group A opener ended as a no re­sult at Edg­bas­ton, re­ports Reuters.

Kane Wil­liams scored a fine cen­tury as New Zealand posted 291 all out in 45 overs, a to­tal that at one stage looked like be­ing much higher be­fore seamer Josh Ha­zle­wood recorded ca­reer-best fig­ures of 6-52 for Aus­tralia.

Rain in the in­ter­val be­tween in­nings meant Aus­tralia faced a re­duced vic­tory tar­get of 235 from 33 overs, and they limped to 53 for three in nine overs be­fore the heav­ens opened for a fi­nal time and the game was aban­doned.

Hosts Eng­land top the pool with two points, New Zealand and Aus­tralia have one each, and Bangladesh are on zero.

Wil­liamson’s 100 off 97 balls an­chored a New Zealand in­nings that promised a lot more, but Aus­tralia found their groove in the clos­ing overs to take the fi­nal seven wick­ets for 37 runs.

Wil­liamson put on 77 with opener Luke Ronchi (65) and 99 for the third wicket with Ross Tay­lor (46) be­fore he was run out the ball af­ter reach­ing his ton.

New Zealand were 254/4 with 10.5 overs re­main­ing and on course for a score well in ex­cess of 300, but Ha­zle­wood in­duced a num­ber of false strokes from their bats­men.

Glenn Maxwell took four catches, one short of Jonty Rhodes’s one-day in­ter­na­tional record of five for a fielder.

Tight New Zealand bowl­ing at the start of Aus­tralia’s re­ply built pres­sure.

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