Win the only option for Proteas

2009-11-27 00:00

SOUTH Africa face a must-win situation tonight against an increasingly confident England side.

Tonight’s day-nighter at Newlands sees Graeme Smith’s men trying to put an end to a truly miserable run against the English.

Time and again we have heard how South Africa are the better balanced outfit, how they have the brighter stars and how England are bound to stumble.

But the truth of the matter is that the Proteas have now lost six of their last seven ODIs against Andrew Strauss’s team.

The Proteas can take some comfort from playing at Newlands, where they have won 24 out of 27 matches.

Their last loss in the Mother City was in 2003 against the West Indies.

Not that we should put too much importance on stats and history.

Here Smith and company face a side with a major point to prove. Mickey Arthur’s stinging and somewhat cock-a-hoop attacks of England’s performance in the T20 series have backfired, with England drawing strength from them and the Proteas left with egg on their faces.

It was not so much what Arthur said, but the timing of his comments.

A twenty-over hit-and-giggle was never going to lay down a marker for what is now a rather feisty battle between two teams who just about get along.

Arthur tried to put the spotlight on Strauss and his side, but now the glare is firmly on South Africa after a tough week all round.

The loss of Jacques Kallis has seen all sorts of mini panics, with Heschelle Gibbs hastily recalled and Morné Morkel joining him in the Proteas squad this week.

What is clear is that the Proteas are over-reliant on Kallis’s multi-functionality. Indeed, you would almost think they can’t do without him, judging by some comments this week.

What the Proteas need to do is employ specialists instead of having both Albie Morkel and Ryan McLaren in the same side.

McLaren’s bowling would appear to be more necessary than Morkel’s slugging ability at this stage.

Wayne Parnell is also set to return in place of the luckless Charl Langeveldt. The former prison warder has only just returned to the international mix, but a shoulder problem looks set to rule him out.

The tourists, meanwhile, have had better news. The return of Stuart Broad should see Sajid Mahmood discarded, and Broad should also add more depth to the batting department. Not that England needed it last week, as Paul Collingwood and Jonathan Trott cruised to victory at Centurion.

For Trott, tonight will be a special occasion. Having plied his trade for Western Province for many years, a return to familiar haunts — in enemy uniform — will be an interesting experience.

He has already shown his worth on this tour, but he will be desperate to rubber-stamp his homecoming with a really special innings.

The problems, then, are all South Africa’s tonight.

Smith not only has to cajole a win out of his increasingly desperate troops, but he also has to contain a growing mob of expats who are thriving in the colours of the Queen.

It would take a brave man to bet against South Africa at Newlands on any night, but tonight they will really be up against it.

For the sake of the series, they have no other choice but to win.

Teams:

South Africa (possible): Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Herschelle Gibbs, Alviro Petersen, Mark Boucher (wk), Ryan McLaren, Roelof van der Merwe, Wayne Parnell, Dale Steyn.

England (possible): Andrew Strauss (capt), Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior (wk), Luke Wright, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, James Anderson.

Play starts at 2.30 pm, with coverage on SS2 and SABC3 from 2 pm.

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