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Ken Borland

Always a few things to pick at ‘after a performance like that’

Posted on February 06, 2023 by Ken

As a scarred and wounded Temba Bavuma said after the Proteas’ shock loss to the Netherlands saw them exit the T20 World Cup on Sunday, there will always be a few things to pick at “after a performance like that”.

The problems started for a surprisingly flat Proteas side, considering the semi-finals beckoned, with their bowling. The 10.30am start and early moisture in the pitch prompted them to bowl first, even though the last nine matches at the Adelaide Oval had been won by the side batting first.

The South African attack is always so highly-rated, but on this occasion they let down their captain’s decision at the toss by bringing little energy or smarts to their bowling. They failed to adapt to Stephan Myburgh’s onslaught up front or to the true nature of the pitch, which was slowing up and required pace to be taken off and plenty of variations to be used. How the Netherlands later bowled was exactly the template.

A switched-on Lungi Ngidi would normally have prospered, but he went for 35 runs in three overs; Kagiso Rabada travelled for 37 runs in his three overs.

Rabada is South Africa’s premier fast bowler and a team always needs their spearhead to shine in world cups. But sadly Rabada was the Proteas’ most expensive bowler in the tournament, conceding 9.43 runs-per-over and only taking two wickets for 151 runs. Those are not the returns expected from such a great paceman.

On a pitch on which strokeplay was always going to become more difficult as the ball became softer, a fast start to the chase is always going to be vital, but Quinton de Kock and Bavuma could only score at a run-a-ball as they limped to 39/2 in the powerplay.

Bavuma will surely now be jettisoned from the T20 side unless the selectors continue to be blind to what is now openly being called “the elephant in the room”, but the Proteas also need more consistency from De Kock, especially when it comes to the crunch games where he needs to be stepping up as a senior batsman.

Slow pitches with a bit of turn will continue to be the achilles heel of the Proteas batting unless their minds, game-plans and skillsets are sharper to the importance of being able to rotate the strike in-between the boundaries.

CSA will reportedly be splitting the Proteas coaching job into red-ball and white-ball roles, so these are the problems that will be inherited by whoever succeeds Mark Boucher on a permanent basis.

South Africa’s next limited-overs action will only be at the end of January, in an ODI series against England, which will be crucial to their hopes of qualifying automatically for next year’s 50-over World Cup.

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