Hen­dricks, Markram need to keep those pads on ...

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

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.

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