The Proteas are still alive de­spite their poor show­ing

Weekend Witness - - Sport -

THE Proteas go into to­day’s World T20 pool match against Eng­land know­ing that vic­tory will be enough to send them through to the semi­fi­nals, while de­feat would spell the end of their par­tic­i­pa­tion in Bangladesh.

They may not have been at their best in any of their three matches so far, but no­body can ac­cuse Faf du Plessis’s charges of be­ing bor­ing.

Two ab­so­lute nail­biters brought this news­room to a stand­still in their clos­ing stages, and it was hugely en­cour­ag­ing to see us fi­nally fin­ish­ing on the right side of con­tests that close.

As the skip­per said af­ter the Nether­lands match, it is al­ways a good sign when you are win­ning de­spite play­ing nowhere near your best.

The Nether­lands match — we’ll re­mem­ber that one for some time to come. I won­der how high up on the list of all­time lows that would have ranked. Not quite as bad as the Klusener/Don­ald catas­tro­phe of 1999, or the Boucher/ Pol­lock math­e­mat­ics dis­as­ter of 2003.

If it had been any team other than our own, we would have been scream­ing for the un­der­dog to up­set the odds.

They came so close, and in truth it was the Dutch who played the bet­ter cricket through­out the con­test. Be­ing on the verge of beat­ing one of cricket’s pow­er­houses is not some­thing that hap­pens ev­ery day for a team like Hol­land and the mag­ni­tude of the sit­u­a­tion proved a lit­tle too much for them as they ran out of steam.

Af­ter watch­ing them play three times now, the Proteas go into to­day’s match look­ing noth­ing like a side that can chal­lenge for honours. As Ray White so hon­estly ad­mits in his above mus­ings, it can be dif­fi­cult to make sense of the for­mat and how best to tackle a match. But, at heart, we are all ex­perts — re­gard­less of the sport in ques­tion — and we will all have our own opin­ions.

My ad­vice to the Proteas, when batting, would be to stop think­ing so much.

How much do we need af­ter the power play? When do we bring in Al­bie? Are we get­ting the most out of Miller? Should Hash be play­ing?

Stop ask­ing these ques­tions and just go out there and bat. Score as many runs as you can as quickly as you can and as fear­lessly as you can. You have to be fear­less in this game.

If you go out, it’s not the end of the world. There are only 20 overs and all it takes is one or two of your seven specialist bats­men com­ing off to post a com­pet­i­tive to­tal. And we have enough fire­power in our ar­se­nal to as­sume that will hap­pen in ev­ery in­nings.

Apart from Steyn and Tahir, we have also been poor in the bowl­ing depart­ment. Morné Morkel is prob­a­bly still suf­fer­ing from cold shiv­ers af­ter his three overs, non for 50 against the Black Caps, and Lon­wabo Tsot­sobe is also try­ing his best to jus­tify a place amongst the re­serves. As bad as Morkel was, he was surely a bet­ter op­tion than Tsot­sobe against the Dutch, who do not face that sort of pace of­ten.

Beu­ran Hen­dricks did enough on Thurs­day to war­rant an­other game to­day, and the log­i­cal step now is for Wayne Par­nell to re­place Tsot­sobe in a move that would rid us of a poor fielder and in­con­sis­tent bowler and give us a ver­sa­tile all­rounder.

The in­con­sis­tency in the bowl­ing is ex­actly the prob­lem. In the first ball of his fi­nal over against New Zealand, Morkel had the third man up in the cir­cle. And what does he do? He bowls a light­ning­quick full­toss wide and out­side off stump. Even Tsot­sobe would have backed him­self to squeeze that one through for four. It was in­fu­ri­at­ing.

If it wasn’t for Steyn and Tahir, who have been fan­tas­tic, our at­tack would be com­pletely tooth­less and to­day would be noth­ing more than an ex­hi­bi­tion match be­fore we came back home.

Let’s hope the rest of the bowlers step up to­day, be­cause the resur­gence of Eng­land against Sri Lanka showed that they have some big hit­ters. We need this, chaps. Don’t let us down.

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