Cardiff crash: Ex-Proteas speak out

Chris Morris (Getty)
Chris Morris (Getty)

Cape Town – South Africa were “too tentative” in their batting approach en route to series-deciding defeat by England in the third Twenty20 international at Cardiff on Sunday.

That was just one reason – from long-serving wicketkeeper/batsman Mark Boucher – provided by former national stars for the Proteas’ latest setback on their increasingly fruitless England tour, with the Test series just around the corner.

The Proteas have now surrendered the T20 series 2-1, on top of an identical outcome in the one-day internationals, and also performed poorly with just one victory from three matches in the ICC Champions Trophy on UK soil.

In the SuperSport studio afterwards, Boucher, former captain and opening batsman Kepler Wessels and stalwart left-arm spinner Robin Peterson dissected the Sophia Gardens loss by 19 runs – a result arguably made to look flatteringly “close” by some spirited late striking from tail-enders Mangaliso Mosehle and Andile Phehlukwayo after the horse had bolted.

Boucher said it was “irritating” how the tourists had not transferred their bright finish to the England innings – featuring some wonderfully suffocating bowling from rookie seamer Dane Paterson – into an early statement of intent when they then took to the crease in pursuit of 182.

“We finished so well with our bowling … we seem to have found a bloke (Paterson) who can hit the block-hole more often than not. It is exciting; I hope a few others take note.

“To take that (momentum) straight into the batting would have been great, but instead we batted tentatively (at first).

“In the first few overs chasing 180-odd you have to be proactive. We didn’t go out and try to make a play, be aggressive enough.”

As a crumb of comfort for Proteas enthusiasts looking ahead to the first Test at Lord’s beginning late next week, Boucher said he felt the five-day squad was “a lot more mature than our white-ball teams are”.

He added: “They’ve come through some tough times with flying colours. But a tour of England can also get very long when you start losing games.”

Peterson said it had become a “difficult” tour.

“The harder they tried (in Cardiff) the more they went nowhere … they fielded badly, didn’t get anything going with the bat, and with the ball for the first 15 overs, England got on top of us. We had five good overs in this game.

“We pulled them back to 181, but really we were staring down the barrel of 200.

“It’s going to be tough (the rest of the tour), regardless of whether you’ve got players going home now or coming in. We will need a lot of senior players to step up.”

Wessels, meanwhile, said England clearly “have a lot of depth” in white-ball cricket.

He condemned the decision to promote bowling all-rounder Chris Morris to the No 3 berth, a move that did not pay dividends (the player was caught for eight).

“It was absolutely not the correct decision – Chris Morris clears the boundary, as we know, at the end of an innings.

“He does a great job there. To send him in during the power-play was not a great decision … I am not sure how you arrive at a decision like that for a crunch game.”

The Proteas were without the input of head coach Russell Domingo, who has returned home following a serious vehicle accident involving his mother.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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