South Africa will be happy to be out of Hamilton with the win and David Miller and JP Duminy showing what they’re made of.
We are fortunate that we now move to Australia for the coming weekend’s big one against champions India. The MCG in Melbourne can squeeze in 100,000 people and I reckon it will be crammed to the rafters for what is a huge match in Pool B. And we will be much happier on all fronts in Australia than in New Zealand. The grounds are bigger – you can chip the ball over the ropes at Hamilton – and the tracks are quicker and bouncier. Plus, the big crowd really gives the boys a sense of the big occasion.
Having said that, it was important to get the win over Zimbabwe, who I thought played really well. They benefited from the early morning conditions, bowling first on what looked a slow, sticky surface. That kind of track doesn’t suit someone like Quinton de Kock and I’m a little bit worried about his lack of runs at the moment. However, he too will enjoy getting back to Australia and batting on those faster, bouncier tracks. It’s worth noting that our next three matches are in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, before we go back to New Zealand to play Pakistan in Auckland – that could be a potential banana skin – and the UAE in Wellington.
Hashim Amla’s dismissal was a bit soft and for me his body language didn’t look too good batting against Zimbabwe, while in the case of AB de Villiers all credit must go to Zimbabwe who bowled well to him and took a fantastic catch to get rid of him.
The Proteas top-order has had a remarkable last two years, so slipping to 83 for 4 is not necessarily a bad thing. It means that David and JP could do their thing and their unbeaten world record fifth-wicket partnership of 256 will do wonders for their confidence, and the team’s in general.
When Zimbabwe batted it was obvious how comfortable they were – and that has a lot to do with the track on which they played. Our quick bowlers weren’t as effective on that surface as they will be in Australia, and Zimbabwe knew that, and were able to get to within 62 runs of our total. It’s also pretty clear that our batting is stronger as a collective than our bowling – and we also have the problem with No7, which everyone has spoken about.
Going forward I think we have to relook at Farhaan Behardien’s spot in the team and if we decide that the batsmen are going to win the World Cup for us then maybe it’s worth bringing Rilee Rossouw in at No7, thus extending the batting line-up and then asking JP to bowl his full quota of 10 overs. He got through eight in Hamilton, but the problem with only having the five bowlers – especially in Australia – is what happens when one of them goes for plenty of runs? Maybe to bring in Wayne Parnell or Kyle Abbott to help strengthen the bowling unit and trust the batsmen to do their job on the tracks that will suit them better.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see India wanting to chase a target at the MCG. They are world champions and back their ability to chase down big totals, so what looks certain is that we’re going to see another total well over 300 winning in Melbourne at the weekend.
In all five matches so far – including Ireland’s win over the West Indies – the winning total has been over 300. I don’t think, certainly in the matches featuring the stronger teams, that we’ll see anything less than 280 or 290.
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.