Big wake-up call

February 23, 2015 AB de Villiers

Where does one start after losing to India like that? I found the result at the MCG very surprising, to say the least.

When the Proteas left South Africa on the back of a series win over a West Indies side who were woeful in the ODIs, it was said that this team was going to the World Cup as mentally the strongest we have had. Well, you mustn’t make statements like that if you can’t back them up.

An example of where we weren’t mentally strong was the dismissal of JP Duminy, who tried to reverse sweep Ravichandran Ashwin. He’d made six off 15 balls with the score 147 for 4 in the 32nd over. This was not Zimbabwe we were playing, but the world champions in front of 90,000 largely Indian fans at the MCG. The pressure was on and he failed to handle it.

When you look at Duminy’s four ODI hundreds, three have come against Zimbabwe and one against the Netherlands. He has also scored a 99 against Ireland and a 90 against Kenya.

Duminy needs to start producing the big scores against the bigger countries, so that’s a worry.

In fact there are a whole lot of worries for me after this poor result. Even if we were going to lose chasing 308 – and it could have been 360 had AB de Villiers not run out Rohit Sharma – David Miller should have looked to get an 80 or so and keep his form going. And to get those runs against the world champions would have made some sort of statement. It’s one thing getting a hundred against a weak West Indies or Zimbabwe, but the big occasion is when he needs to stick up his hand as well and make a really big score.

I also thought we got all our bowling tactics completely wrong, and AB didn’t have his best day as captain either. Everyone is blaming Wayne Parnell for going for 85 runs in his nine overs. But as soon as Vernon Philander injured his hamstring, AB then threw the ball to Duminy. He should have given Parnell the ball at that stage.

Both Dale Steyn and Philander hadn’t bowled well to the batsmen in the powerplay. Sure, India were only 36-1 at the end of those first 10 overs but with two balls being used they were both still hard and less than five overs old by the time Vernon left the field injured. Right then Parnell should have been asked to bowl, not JP.

Unfortunately for Wayne, he was always going to be under pressure. Everyone knew it was an issue – that No7 role and him and Farhaan Behardien vying for that spot – but it was as if he never had a chance.

In fact, Parnell was called into the attack in the 18th over with the score 70-1 and Shikhar Dhawan already on 47. And in only his second over, and with his seventh ball to Dhawan – who was on 53 at the time and went on to make a big hundred – Parnell would have had his man had Hashim Amla held on to the catch. Don’t make Parnell the scapegoat.

It has to also be a concern that both AB and Amla have failed with the bat for the second time. The manner of our batting collapse is really surprising given the form and consistency the top six has shown in the last couple of years with everyone getting hundreds.

Hash was out hooking, which has never been a strong point of his, while Quinton de Kock’s ongoing lack of runs is another concern, as I have flagged before.

However, the die was cast with the bowling. For me it’s a big concern that we have three bowling coaches and we can only imagine how much advice is being handed out, so much so that it can be confusing to the bowlers.

Why we didn’t pepper the Indian batsmen with short balls early on in the innings frankly amazes me. We all know that batsmen from the sub-continent don’t like the short ball dug in at pace. They love it pitched up, but we bowled too full early. And by the time we started bouncing them, the horse had bolted.

So, this was a serious wake-up call. There is plenty of planning to do before we play the West Indies, who themselves will be much more dangerous given that they beat Pakistan, which is a great result for them.

Gibbs played 90 Tests and 248 ODI matches for South Africa and scored more than 14,500 runs for his country. He also scored 175 in that ‘438 match’ against Australia at the Wanderers and hit six sixes in an over at the 2007 World Cup.



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