What’s going on between the wickets?

2013-06-11 12:39

The Proteas’ bowling box was ticked emphatically yesterday after a spirited performance on the field, but there are big questions that remain about their batting – especially when it comes to running between the wickets.

If the issue is narrowed down, it is the calling of the runs in particular that is the pertinent issue.

A platform of 183/3 in the 40th over against Pakistan should be one that sets up a 250-plus total. The fact that South Africa at least made 234 was down to Hashim Amla’s 81, which was the eventual difference and also won him the man of the match award. Calling, taught at mini-cricket level, is a simple skill where the batsman will call from the point of view which they have.

One run-out is enough to turn a match but four is utterly unacceptable. The last two could be forgiven because of the match situation in which the tail-enders sacrificed their wickets in the pursuit of quick runs; but those of AB de Villiers and JP Duminy made South Africa’s job that much harder.

A bigger total could have cajoled Pakistan into a higher gear in their chase, but 234 looked a moderate total and therefore elicited a moderate response. Despite the excellent output, South Africa’s attack is workmanlike at best and is more reliant on the sum of its parts rather than individual performances with the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel absent.

To describe some of the personnel as limited in the manner described by Espncricinfo.com does a disservice to them. At their best, both teams were let down by their batting units and the bowlers had to rock up to keep the sides afloat.

The West Indies will present a different and exuberant batting challenge as they will not back into their shells like Pakistan did.

Their Achilles Heel is their Blue Bulls type approach to their batting, which can either be in first or fifth gear, depending on which team rocks up in Cardiff. The Bulls are big on focusing on their own processes and the Proteas would do well to read their own books first.

Slippery grass or not, that running needs to be sorted out. Six run-outs in two matches is a sign of the inability to deal with pressure.

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