Proteas’ ICC performances are mostly mediocre

2013-06-23 14:00

It was another failed ICC trophy campaign, where any positives were nullified, writes Khanyiso Tshwaku.

Excellent South African performances in ICC tournaments are exceptions rather than the norm.

The problem is that the exception has never become the norm and the rule is that the Proteas are not an ICC trophy winning team.

They did not have a squad that was capable of winning unless the gods cooked up a special brew for them but there were times when they looked like a unit.

But their inability to string together excellent sessions of play and some weird selection gambles that at times paid off but most of the time did not come, meant they were never far from the exit door.

The rule that will be run on them may he harsh but with the benchmark set by the test side, it was always going to be a hard act to follow for the ODI team.

Two ICC failures in two years are blotting what should be a spotless cricketing CV, but then again, even the roundest of balls are hit out of shape.

Negatives

Inconsistency: The Proteas were unable to string together one flawless game.

In tournaments, one bad period of play can almost guarantee a flight home.

Against India, the poor bowling was backed up by excellent batting despite the tall chase.

In the Pakistan game, an excellent start was not built on.

The weather and some luck came to the rescue against the West Indies in Cardiff.

The Oval was an all-round fiasco. There was too much to be done in too little time.

Middle-order worries: Miller may have played himself into the number-six spot but batsmen ahead of him let him down severely.

Duminy showed signs of heavy ring rust after a long lay-off, but the sporadic firing of AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis was a cause for concern.

The flexible batting order should be employed in certain situations, but it’s time the Proteas’ middleorder mark out their berths.

If it means Duminy should bat at first drop, so be it.

After all, he does have the technique to deal with the moving ball.

Running between the wickets: This is a basic skill that seemed to elude the Proteas at the most crucial of stages and teams seemed to prey on that weakness.

In all their games, batsmen were involved in a run-out of some sort, and it stole momentum each time.

Run-outs were why the Proteas lost to India and prevented them from making more than 234 against Pakistan.

With quick and mobile movers between the wickets, it was a serious indictment on the Proteas’ mental strength.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that they wilted under pressure on Wednesday.

Positives

There’s life after Graeme Smith and JacquesKallis: All teams must some day move on without their stars and South Africa’s first joust without its two legends did not turn out so badly.

Gary Kirsten did say the team had to move past Kallis, and experienced players might carry choking scars, but so will the class of 2013.

Smith and Kallis may target the next World Cup, but if there isn’t the shirking of responsibility in big matches, Hashim Amla showed glimpses of carrying the bat while the likes of David Miller can blossom in their own right under AB de Villiers, who still needs to find himself as a leader.

The match against the West Indies was the highest point against a very capable attack and more of it in a very sensible manner could mark out the Proteas as a very dangerous batting unit.

Backupbowling: If any other attack in the Champions Trophy lost their spearheads, they would have been in serious trouble.

In what was considered a dry June in the UK, the pitches bent towards spin, which made the fast-bowling efforts that more remarkable.

Without Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel, the Proteas’ bowling attack held up well, barring in Cardiff against India.

While the likes of Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren and Chris Morris acquitted themselves well, it was the emergence of JP Duminy as a front-line spinner that was most heartening.

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