Peter Robinson

Injection of urgency needed

2005-05-03 12:58

Assuming they eventually make it safely to the Caribbean, Justin Kemp and Justin Ontong will offer South Africa a couple of handy options for the five-match one-day series against the West Indies.

The pair found themselves stuck in London after a delay caused them to miss a connecting flight. No matter; they should get there eventually for a series that is likely not to be as one-sided as many suspect.

This West Indies team looks eminently more suited to the shortened form of the game than to Test cricket. With Chris Gayle running into ominous form, the batting of the home team is likely to give Graeme Smith's tourists pause for thought.

Even in these dolorous times for West Indies cricket the inclination of the batsmen will be to attack. And enough of them have scored runs in the Test matches to suggest that, bit by bit perhaps, they are starting to tune into the right wavelength.

In the one-day matches, too, the shortcomings of the West Indies attack should be less pronounced. It should not be forgotten that last September the West Indies managed to string four victories together in a row to win the Champions Trophy.

Given flat pitches, the desperation of their supporters and a decent slice of good luck and the home team might well be able to redeem themselves. Certainly, they need to.

Which is where Kemp and Ontong come in. Kemp's explosive batting against England will have assured him of a starting place in Kingston, Jamaica on Saturday, but how quickly he adjusts to the conditions remains to be seen.

It should not surprise or alarm anyone if he takes a game or two to get going.

And then there's Ontong, whose international career has been dogged by poor selections and worse advice. Ontong needs to play in this series as a batsman who can bowl a bit of spin, not the other way around, which was the thinking when he went to India last year.

Ontong is a gifted batsman, quite possibly one of the best in South Africa outside the national side. He's a versatile slow bowler, too, but this is his third string, behind his batting and his fielding.

He's always had too much asked of him, usually the wrong things at the wrong time, but if South Africa employ him sympathetically, he could finally start cementing a place in the team.

What Kemp and Ontong could offer South Africa is an injection of urgency after the Test matches. The first Test match in Guyana clearly shook the tourists, and the intention since then has clearly been to build totals that allow them to dictate the course of the match.

It's a perfectly understandable approach, and one justified by the wins in Trinidad and Barbados. But it's also produced batting that had been reliable rather than explosive.

The South Africans have struggled to change gear, even when the West Indies bowlers have been crawling in on their knees. They've also treated Gayle's offbreaks with more respect, perhaps, than they deserve.

The South African method has been determined rather than adventurous; this is not a criticism.

Their results justify the means, but a change of perspective, a new eye, is required for the one-dayers.

Perhaps Kemp and Ontong will be able to provide a fresh look at things.

Send your comments to Peter or discuss this column now in our debating forum.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


Marketing Archie

2019-05-22 20:27

Marketing Archie

2019-05-22 20:27

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