Shafiek Abrahams

Steyn, Ntini combo 'excellent'

2006-05-05 08:28

Makhaya Ntini has done it again for the South African cricket team. He captured his fourth ten-wicket haul in a Test match and became the first South African to have done it.

He has undoubtedly been the best bowler in the Proteas team for the last two seasons and one wonders what the attack would have been like without him. Ntini had his critics over the past few seasons and many believed that he bowled from too wide off the crease and he does not have enough variation in his bowling.

He has certainly silenced all of them with some scintillating performances in recent times and has been carrying the bulk of the Proteas attack in the Test matches. His long-time new ball partner, Shaun Pollock has been very disappointing in recent matches because he lost pace and is not as economical as he used to be.

Andre Nel replaced him as Ntini's new ball partner against the Australians but he also bowled without the pace that one would normally associate with the Nel aggression. Dale Steyn, the Titans speedster was then recalled to the Proteas and he grabbed his chance with both hands as he and Ntini ripped through the New Zealand batting line-up during the second innings of the first Test at Supersport Park in Centurion.

Bowling with necessary pace

Steyn bowled with the necessary pace and aggression that are required at Test level but what made him even more dangerous was the fact that he got the ball to swing away from the right-handed batsmen and back into the lefthanders. In the first innings he conceded too many boundaries because he over pitched on many occasions and when he tried to correct that he bowled too short and wide.

The fact that he bowled a much better line and length in the second innings means that he is a fast learner and he put it all right when he bowled superbly along with Ntini to destroy the Kiwi batting line-up. The lines and the lengths that they bowled were impeccable and made life very difficult for the batsmen on a very responsive pitch.

Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn complement each other very well because Steyn swings the ball mainly away from a right-handed batsman while Ntini swings and seam the ball back into the right-handers. All of this happens at a very good pace because both these bowlers average around the 140km/h mark.

With Steyn making his mark in the first Test match of the series it does take the workload of Ntini who has been carrying the Proteas attack for the last few months. The Proteas also need Shaun Pollock to start firing again because they are still a strike bowler short if he continues with his lack of wickets in the Test matches.

The strike force of Ntini and Steyn must develop into another successful opening partnership for the Proteas in order to get the success needed at Test level. There is just no substitution for pace and swing when it comes to opening the bowling in Test matches because to win a Test twenty wickets needs to be taken.

  • Shafiek Abrahams is a former Proteas spinner
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