While the loss to India exposed some flawed tactics and selections, there is still time for South Africa to set things right.
India were fantastic on Sunday. Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli were in fine form with the bat, and I believe that MS Dhoni will become more of a factor as the tournament progresses. They fielded very well, and bowled with plenty of variation. They’re a unit that’s starting to fire.
A few weeks ago, India were struggling. They failed to qualify for the final of the triangular series in Australia. And yet, they have turned things around with convincing performances against Pakistan and South Africa at the World Cup.
It’s for this reason that we shouldn’t write off the Proteas just yet. They have an outstanding top six and some world-class bowlers. The performance against India was a shocker, but if they make several important changes, they could, like India, become a force at this tournament.
I thought that the two run-outs had a big impact on the final result at the MCG. Credit to India, they did well to effect those dismissals. Their bowlers put the South African players under pressure, and their fielders made their opportunities count. Luck was also with India. Take nothing away from their performance, but sometimes you need a bit of luck too.
While the Proteas will need some luck going forward, they will also need to make some changes. I was surprised when Wayne Parnell was selected for the match at the MCG, and even more surprised when he continued to bowl over the wicket. History tells us that the great left-arm quicks have had more success bowling around the wicket to right-handed batsman. Why did Parnell persist with that line over the wicket? That angle makes it easier for the right-hand batsman, as there is often more space to play the big shots.
I’ve consistently questioned the Proteas’ selections at No 7, and feel that South Africa are better off with Rilee Rossouw batting in that position. I’d like to see JP Duminy bowling more, and on that note, the South African spin effort has been one of the few positives at this World Cup. Imran Tahir has done particularly well.
While the Proteas have the quality and experience in the top six to be effective, they need to rethink their tactics. Hashim Amla has been disappointing. He’s looked susceptible when hooking or pulling. In that clash against Zimbabwe in Hamilton, where the ground is very small, those top edges and miscues will travel further and not cost you your wicket. But on a big ground like the MCG, you need to rethink your tactics. India did their homework against Amla, and were rewarded with his wicket.
I wasn’t happy with the shot selection overall. Faf du Plessis perished in an attempt to hit Mohit Sharma back over his head, while JP Duminy tried to play a reverse sweep. Both players could have done better.
I was concerned to see South Africa copping a hiding in the warm-up match against New Zealand. They didn’t play well against Zimbabwe, and the recent game involving India was very one-sided.
Having said that, I expect they will qualify for the play-offs, and that they have the personnel to do well in the big matches.
They should take heart from the fact that India have turned things around in a short space of time. They can do the same, provided they make some important changes to their approach and lineup.
Graeme Pollock played 23 Tests for South Africa, scoring 2256 runs at an average (60.97) that remains second only to Don Bradman’s. He was voted South Africa’s Player of the 20th century in 1999, and inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2009.
Due to a series of health problems that have impacted on his financial position, Pollock is now reaching out to fans in hope of some support. If you are able to contribute to his Trust in any way, please do not hesitate to call his agent Basil O’Hagan on 083 4124459 or make a deposit, however small, to the following Trust Fund.
Name of Account Holder: Rudolf Buys & Associates Trust
Name of Bank: Standard Bank
Account Number: 281 464 359
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Branch Code: 009 953
Type of Account: Trust Account
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