Protea newcomers impress against Oz in ODI series

2009-04-16 00:00

The one-day series between South Africa and Australia has provided Protea newcomers with the chance to show off their abundant talent and it’s been impressive stuff. South Africa’s confident performances in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth proved that this relatively inexperienced Protea squad has a new school of youngsters who are not easily intimidated.

Their self-belief is evident and although they are aware of Australia’s impressive one-day record, they appear not to be overawed by it.

South Africa’s series victory was indeed a team effort, but the performances of impressive left-armer Wayne Parnell and talented all-rounder Roelof Van der Merwe, who both gained man of the match awards, were certainly huge contributing factors. Australia’s less experienced one day caps Brett Geeves, James Hopes and Ben Laughlin would be the first to admit that they have not been at their best compared to South Africa’s young talent, who have been a revelation — this has been the difference between the two sides in my opinion.

The first two one-day encounters produced emphatic but contrasting results and one had the sense that the initially tentative Proteas were getting a feel of the Australian one-day line-up.

South Africa did well to absorb the pressure of their embarrassing defeat at Kingsmead with an impressive counter-attack at Centurion spearheaded by Wayne Parnell’s brilliant bowling display.

The one-day clash at Newlands showed the Protea’s mettle and proved a particularly bruising encounter for the Australians, who were outclassed outmanoeuvred and outplayed in almost all departments.

It hinted at the fact that their one-day team has yet to come to terms with South African one-day conditions or with the Protea’s firepower with both bat and ball. The Australians subsequent demise at St George’s Park on Monday confirmed this.

Graham Smith is understandably enjoying the “good energy” in his team. In stark contrast, Ricky Ponting appears to have run out of options (and fingernails!). His efforts to galvanise his team appear to have been thwarted by South Africa’s dominance and the underperformance of his youngsters has not helped.

Despite his team woes, Ponting has maintained consistent form as we’ve come to expect and his performance and Mitchell Johnson’s are without doubt head and shoulders above those of the rest of their team. however, even their combined class has not been enough to hamper the Proteas’ progress.

South Africa will be determined to inflict as much damage on Australia’s already injured pride during the final one-day encounter at the Wanderers tomorrow.

It’s not often that Australia provides its opposition with an opportunity to assert its dominance and the Proteas will be determined not to miss out on this occasion. Australia will be determined to salvage some dignity and will be keen to finish their tour to South Africa, which saw them victorious in the test series, on a high note.

South Africa is motivated and eager to provide their youngsters with yet another occasion to showcase their talent.

A victory tomorrow will provide the Proteas with an added boost, but either way, they will take great comfort in the fact that their one-day squad has depth, talent and potential aplenty.

• Neil Johnson is a former Natal, WP and Zimbabwe all-rounder who lives and coaches in Pietermaritzburg.

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