More pressure on De Villiers as Proteas prepare for final one-day clash

2012-09-05 00:00

NOTTINGHAM — England’s Jonathan Trott has been ruled out of the fifth and final one-day international against South Africa at Trent Bridge today because of a hand injury.

The South Africa-born batsman was hit on the right hand by a short ball from Proteas paceman Dale Steyn during England’s six-wicket victory at Lord’s on Sunday, a result that put them 2-1 up in the five-match series, but was cleared of any “major fracture” after an X-ray on Monday.

Jonathan Bairstow seems certain to replace him in his first match of the series.

Meanwhile, times have suddenly got tough for South African captain ODI AB de Villiers ahead of today’s clash.

The downturn in the fortunes of the South African one-day team have put pressure on the man who combines the demanding roles of captain, senior batsman and wicketkeeper.

It would be foolish to read too much into the current one-day series in England, coming as it does after a tough Test series, but the fact is that South Africa were outplayed in the third and fourth matches. The win in the second game, after the first was washed out, was primarily due to a magnificent innings of 150 by Hashim Amla.

In the next two matches South Africa’s batting did not click — Amla’s scores of 43 and 45 were the team’s best in both matches — and the bowlers were unable to defend low totals.

The batting has been disappointing, with De Villiers himself not making the contributions that have made him the country’s outstanding one-day batsman in recent years. The South Africans have been unable to score quickly enough after decent starts by Amla and Graeme Smith and no one has been able to play a long innings.

Nor has SA’s bowling been consistent enough. Lonwabo Tsotsobe has been some way short of the standard that enabled him to top the ICC one-day bowling rankings some months ago, Ryan McLaren has looked ordinary, while Morné Morkel and Wayne Parnell have had frustrating lapses of control.

That leaves Dale Steyn and Robin Peterson of the front-line bowlers and they have been adequate rather than outstanding.

Today’s match is followed by three Twenty20 matches and then the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. One hopes fortunes will change at Trent Bridge and the players will go into the T20 segment with renewed vigour, knowing that the games are valuable preparation for the world event.

Justin Ontong and the Morkel brothers might be given an airing today while De Villiers has some soul-searching to do. He has kept wicket since the injury to Mark Boucher at the beginning of the tour and he has yet to reach 50 in an international match.

The two facts may be linked but only the player himself can judge whether he is trying to take on too much. Heavy load or not, the team need a dominating innings from their one-day captain.

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