Test match titans need ODI formula

2013-03-03 10:00

The Proteas are the world’s best test side by a mile.

As an ODI unit, some former glory needs to be rekindled, writes Khanyiso Tshwaku

When the test team floundered, it seemed to galvanise the team in colours into exacting massive retribution.

Since the Total Triangular Series in early 1993, when the likes of Brian Lara and Waqar Younis showed up South Africa’s lack of international experience, only two bilateral series were lost.

Those were both to Australia in 1997 and 2001 when Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting saw to it that they could walk away from the republic unconquered.

The next series defeat would only occur eight years later, against England.

It was a statistic as formidable as their current 15-match unbeaten test match streak.

South Africa only have five matches before the ICC Champions Trophy, which will be the last of its kind, and there has not been a lot of settling down nor the establishing of a formula that could win a trophy.

The five-match ODI series starts on Sunday in Bloemfontein.

Not that the Proteas have done well in winning trophies, and Pakistan don’t enjoy being in South Africa for ODIs either, but the focus is on how the hosts should build up a head of steam.

The approach to test cricket has been very simple: bowl fast, take wickets, score as many runs as possible and exert pressure on opponents.

The only real change is the clothes, two white balls and fielding restrictions.

While 20 wickets win test matches and runs win ODIs, it is how quickly they are scored and defended that counts.

The script and setting may change but the cast is still the same.

Cricket is not rocket science but different teams have their own devices in which they achieve their aims.

South Africa does not and will not have the chasing prowess of an India, which seems to thrive under the pressure of batting second.

They are adept at defending and, with the type of bowlers South Africa has at its disposal, it comes naturally.

It is a nature Proteas coach Gary Kirsten is well-accustomed to from his playing days.

Not all pitches will be receptive to the all-out pace South Africa uses to blast out opponents.

Organisers need bums on seats after a rather underwhelming test season.

Only 17 of the scheduled 25 test days were seen through.

It is blockbuster cricket, but not exactly heartwarming for

hard-working groundsmen, who will be under pressure to produce more predictable wickets.

The cry for flat, batter-friendly wickets will be loud, to maximise profits and entertain starved fans.

For a change, winning should not be the issue.

It is how the job is done that is the key.

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