Free-spirited Proteas have no excuses for sloppy batting

JP Duminy (Getty)
JP Duminy (Getty)

London - It is all very well approaching their World Cup with low expectations and a free-spirited approach to their cricket, but the Proteas need to take ownership of the fact that they were sloppy and careless with the bat against England on Thursday.

Before the match South African captain Faf du Plessis had underplayed the significance of his side's tournament opener against the hosts and favourites, but a 104-run loss will hurt. 

In a tournament where scores well over 300 are expected to be par, the Proteas were bowled all out for a dismal 207.

They may be punting their bowling as their strength, but South Africa will go nowhere at the World Cup tournament if they do not show more application with the bat in the weeks ahead. 

They did come up against a rampant, incredibly quick Jofra Archer, but too many Proteas gave their wickets away unnecessarily. 

Having bowled and fielded well enough to restrict England to 311 from their 50 overs, the required run rate was never an issue for South Africa, even when they were losing wickets. 

But, for some reason, they self-imploded.

Aiden Markram (11) played a nothing shot to a length ball outside off-stump, Du Plessis was caught hooking when he was on 5, Quinton de Kock (68) clipped a ball off his legs straight down fine leg's throat, JP Duminy (8) lofted Moeen Ali straight to long-off and Dwaine Pretorius (1) was runout in the most clumsy fashion trying to steal a second run when he really didn't need to. 

All those dismissals were more a case of the Proteas losing their wickets rather than England taking them, and it would ultimately decide the match. 

"I suppose you could say that," middle-order batsman Rassie van der Dussen said when he asked if he thought the Proteas had too many soft dismissals. 

"They were wickets where it wasn't necessarily an unplayable delivery and it was maybe just the wrong thinking and lack of execution on our behalves.

"It's the first game so it's a stepping stone for us. We'll go back and have a look at that."

Batsmen must be positive at this World Cup, of that there is no doubt, but the Proteas needed to show an element of application on Thursday when the pressure was rising, and the game was in the balance. 

They didn't, and they do not have long to sort it out. 

A clash against Bangladesh at The Oval has now become a must-win contest as they look to get their World Cup up and running. 

@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...

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