Monday, October 8, 2018

We can bowl, but can we bat?

They made heavy weather of it, but the Proteas as expected defeated Zimbabwe 3-0 in the ODI series. The bowling was imperious. Whoever was asked to bowl bowled well. Dale Steyn was ramping it up at 150 kph. Kagiso Rabada was Rabada. Lungi Ngidi was who we are beginning to acknowledge he is. Imran Tahir took a hat-trick and Tabraiz Shamsi showed he is a competent back up to the great man. Andile Phehlukwayo continued to take wickets and go at around six to the over. Which is generally what you ask of your fifth bowler. That is the bowling. The batting wasn't a disaster, but it was not encouraging. It took until the third ODI for a top six batsman to get to fifty. There were mitigating circumstances. The first ODI, the chase was less than 150, and in the second, the pitch was not, shall we say, ideal. But there are always mitigating circumstances. This was a show out series. A chance to strengthen your claim for a world cup spot, with the event proper less than a year away.

No one showed up with the bat. Aiden Markram has had a start in basically every ODI he's played in but no fifties. Heinrich Klaasen showed in the first and the third ODI that he is indeed the muscle of the team. A bruiser in the middle order. But his failure in the second game, combined with his lack of shine in Sri Lanka on turning pitches do leave questions bout his ability when there is a little bit more finesse required unanswered. As a back-up wicket keeper, he will without doubt go to the world cup. But it is getting harder to believe he is the answer to any question which South Africans have been asking. With the retirement of AB de Villiers, there is indeed a spot basically up for grabs in the top six, and it seems everyone has developed butter fingers., unable to catch the chance to become that final cog in the wheel. With that in mind, can anyone explain what the thinking behind letting Faf du Plessis bat in the final ODI was? Admittedly, he is coming back from a lay-off, but it's a six week layoff, Not a six month one. This series should have been about providing opportunities to less experienced players to stake their claim. We finish this series with serious questions about our batting depth. Questions which I fear, in a year's time, we aren't going to like the answers to.

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