Batsmen’s poor form sees them give their wickets cheaply in pursuit of a modest target
THE ASSESSMENT of yesterday’s performance by the Proteas in the second One-Day International will be brief and blunt: The batting was awful and Australia were gifted what was for them a much-needed win.
Of course, South Africa captain Faf du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson will also point to another poor finish with the ball, which saw South Africa hand Australia’s last two wickets 44 runs – following on from the 45 given up in the first match – after they’d again dominated the fragile home batting line-up.
However, their own frailties with the bat were plain to see, and it’s a concern despite the fact they are missing senior pros Hashim Amla and JP Duminy.
This is the series where Aiden Markram, Reeza Hendricks and Heinrich Klaasen must stake a World Cup claim.
It’s where Quinton de Kock gets to show he is in fact a senior player and can play with the requisite responsibility. It is the series where whoever is given the No 7 spot in the batting order needs to perform competently with both bat and ball.
None of those things happened yesterday and it resulted in a seven run defeat that sets up a series decider in Hobart tomorrow.
“That’s a tough pill to swallow,” said Du Plessis, whose 74-run fifth wicket partnership with David Miller had been the only period when the tourists looked in control with the bat.
Last Sunday’s win in Perth was the blueprint for how South Africa wants to play its 50-over cricket, but yesterday’s display is exactly what everyone fears for the Proteas in the post-AB de Villiers era.
The top order is out of order and has been for most of this year; even Amla is only averaging 28.63 in 2018 while De Kock is averaging 35.88 and has scored just two 50s.
Markram and Hendricks are scoring at below 30 runs an innings, which is placing extra pressure on the middle order, where Klaasen has failed to build on the good start he made in the international arena against India earlier this year. Out of form is one thing, however; yesterday most of the batsmen just gave their wickets away in pursuit of a modest target of 232.
Only Hendricks could claim to be the victim of good bowling; the others were either too casual (De Kock, Klaasen and Pretorius) or in Markram’s case, technically lethargic as he got himself run out without knowing where the fielder throwing the ball was because he turned with his back to the fielder going for a third run and was then too slow to react to his partner Hendricks’ call.
Markram has been involved in too many runs-outs in his short international career.
As was the case in Perth, he looked in excellent touch, no more clearly demonstrated than by a disdainful six he hit off a 150km/h delivery from Mitchell Starc. That good start was wasted however, leaving Du Plessis and Miller to attempt a rescue act.
“Dave and I were handling things well out there and we just needed to take it a little bit deeper,” he said.
Du Plessis was out in the 30th over, at which point South Africa needed just 90 to win.
However, the Proteas’ lengthy tail and some gutsy captaincy from his opposite number Aaron Finch, who bowled out his quicks, saw them come up short.
Du Plessis is of the belief at this stage seamers Dale Steyn, Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada – together with Imran Tahir – offer him the best chance of winning.
And they were good again yesterday, attacking relentlessly, never giving Australia’s batsmen a moment’s relief.
They can bowl as well as they like though, because if the batsmen don’t do their jobs – which has too often been the case in the last year – then the Proteas will lose more than they win.
“I don’t believe (Australia’s) score was worthy of winning, we let ourselves down,” said Du Plessis.
“I’m very, very disappointed with how we batted, but with games coming around so quickly, you have to make sure you leave your disappointment in the change room and refocus on Sunday,” the SA skipper added.
Tomorrow’s deciding ODI is another day/night affair starting at 4.50am SA time.
The sides then play a one-off T20 on the Gold Coast next Saturday (10.20am start). JEREMY Brockie says he feels like he’s just turned over a new leaf after scoring his first official goal for Mamelodi Sundowns – 13 months after joining them from crosstown rivals SuperSport United.
The Kiwi-born striker was becoming frustrated with himself for shooting blanks and was beginning to spend more time either on the bench or in the stands as coach Pitso Mosimane had to make do with other options.
“The hardest part was to try and deal with this mentality,” Brockie said a day after breaking his duck in Sundowns’ 3-1 victory over Free State Stars on Wednesday at Loftus.
“Since I arrived in the country in 2015 I have been scoring consistently and then I got the move that I wanted to Sundowns. I knew it was going to be difficult, but I thought I would have adapted a little bit quicker.”
Sundowns host Pirates this afternoon in a top of the table clash.