The Proteas are still alive despite their poor showing

2014-03-29 00:00

THE Proteas go into today’s World T20 pool match against England knowing that victory will be enough to send them through to the semi-finals, 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 nail-biters 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 all-time 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 all-rounder.

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 lightning-quick full-toss 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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