Gibson opens up on Proteas' spin woes

Ottis Gibson (Gallo)
Ottis Gibson (Gallo)

Durban - The Proteas have a major problem playing against quality spin bowling. 

That is a statement that they cannot get away from. 

It was evident on the 2015 tour of India where they were smashed 3-0 in a one-sided Test series, and it was equally evident in Sri Lanka over the past month or so. 

In the Test matches in Sri Lanka, the wickets aided the likes of Rangana Herath and co, but in the limited overs leg of the tour the Proteas' troubles against the slow bowlers had much to do with their own approach. 

From the very beginning of the tour, South Africa wanted to be positive against spin, across all formats. 

Skipper Faf du Plessis acknowledged that the plan had backfired after the first Test at Galle, where spin accounted for 17 of South Africa's wickets as they fell to a 278-run defeat. 

Things didn't get any better in the second Test, either, where spin accounted for all 20 Proteas wickets in a 199-run loss. 

The ODI series provided flatter wickets initially as the Proteas raced to a 3-0 series lead, but as soon as there was some assistance on offer for the slow bowlers, the problems came back. 

In Tuesday's one-off T20I, Lakshan Sandakan (3/19) and Akila Dananjaya (2/15) embarrassed the South Africans. 

Next year's World Cup is in England, but that part of the world can still dish up dry, flat ODI wickets.

More importantly, the Proteas will face quality spin bowling in all of their matches against Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. 

Regardless of the surfaces, spin bowling is set to play a major role at the World Cup, and right now South Africa are not where they need to be in that regard. 

Gibson would still rather see his players looking to be positive against the slow bowlers, but he acknowledges that there needs to be more common sense applied after watching Tuesday's fiasco. 

"I don't think there was enough thinking in terms of guys figuring out for themselves what shots were relevant on the pitch," Gibson explained.

"It wasn't a normal T20 wicket, but you still have to adapt, and we didn't bat well enough.

"We want to be positive, but you still want to make good decisions. The teams that make the best decisions under pressure are the ones that perform the best, and the decision making of some of our players was questionable."

What Gibson doesn't want is batsmen going out to the middle looking to simply survive.

"Some guys play spin very well and others not so well, but I still like the fact that we're trying to score runs," he said.

"My feeling is, if you defend and get out defending, then you're still not scoring runs. You still have to find a way to score.

"I don't want people to go into their shells and start to think that they have to defend. I want guys to look to score."

The Proteas are next in action when they host Zimbabwe in three ODIs and three T20Is, starting in Kimberley on September 30. 

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