Zim tour fails to answer SA’s batting questions
● 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.