Tom Sizeland discusses Farhaan Behardien’s captaincy and the relevance of T20s in the aftermath of the Proteas’ series defeat to Sri Lanka.
BEHARDIEN NOT FIT FOR CAPTAINCY
Perhaps there were no genuine alternatives, but I doubt we’ll be seeing Farhaan Behardien lead the Proteas out again.
To the naked eye, he did little to rally his troops in the face of adversity at Newlands. He offered more ‘100%’ at the post-match interviews than genuine explanations as to what went wrong and how it could be improved. The most worrying part was when he said ‘it’s just one of those things’ in response to the five dropped catches. He HAS to demand more of his players. It was an answer from someone that doesn’t feel he has the right to take ownership of the team. He wasn’t even sure of how to pronounce Niroshan Dickwella’s name, which was embarrassing considering he was Man of the Series.
He made the wrong calls at key moments, too. Opting to bowl Jon Jon Smuts to an injured Angelo Mathews instead of the pace of Andile Phehlukwayo and Wayne Parnell allowed Mathews to bat with freedom against his own game. Why was Lungi Ngidi fielding at cover point instead of on the boundary when he got injured? It was always going to be a tough ask of someone who needs to work on his own form as it is.
Having said that, David Miller was the only other option, and he’s been quiet in the format for a while, too, not to mention his ill-fated spell as skipper at Kings XI Punjab last season.
NEW CAPS SHOW PROMISE
It was an unprecedented move by the selectors to include six debutants in the squad, and it was refreshing to see.
We saw how successful it proved by throwing Andile Phehlukwayo in the deep end in the ODI series against Australia, and it’s happened again with Lungi Ngidi. With the Champions Trophy fast approaching, the Proteas have another excellent fast-bowling option at their disposal. Let’s hope his injury doesn’t prove to be too damaging. Mangaliso Mosehle has shown fearlessness with the bat and provides a useful back-up option to Quinton de Kock. While JJ Smuts and Theunis de Bruyn didn’t perform quite as they would have liked, they are talented players and provide options in this format in the future.
SENIOR PLAYERS FAILED TO STEP UP
WIth six debutants in the squad, it was a chance for the likes of Miller, Behardien, Wayne Parnell and Imran Tahir to show their value as senior members in the squad. All but Tahir failed to do this.
Behardien’s captaincy has been mentioned, but he also lost his wicket at crucial stages in the second and third matches. Bar De Villiers’ 63 at Newlands, there was a huge gap in the middle order, and Miller has to shoulder most of the blame for this. For years now, the public have been asking for Miller to have a go up the order. He came in at key positions of No 4, 5 and 4 and this was his chance to score big and turn good totals into excellent ones. 40, 11 and 1 were the results. More was required from someone of his experience and calibre.
Parnell can count himself extremely unlucky not to have taken more wickets at Newlands, but his erratic bowling in the 17th over that conceded 19 runs proved costly.
A BACKWARD STEP FOR T20s?
T20 cricket has become a vital part of the international schedule and has, of course, exploded on the domestic scene around the world, but it certainly wasn’t treated with any real importance in this series.
The fact that Russell Domingo walked into the post-series conference with a big, beaming smile pretty much summed that up. He wouldn’t dream of having that expression after a Test series defeat, so how seriously is this being taken? While blooding new youngsters into the side proved an excellent exercise, they got away with selecting a second-string side purely on the basis that it was a T20 series.
It felt like the entertainment was forced at times, too. Fireworks went off after every wicket, and, bizarrely, the cheers were just as loud when they went off for a Proteas wicket as they were when there were Sri Lankan wickets. Surely, and I’ve been saying this for years now, this format should be scheduled as something of a curtain-raiser before the longer formats. Treat it for what it is – a bit of fun.
AB SHOWS HIS CLASS
It was an effortless transition for one of South Africa’s greatest batsmen.
He might be coming under scrutiny for picking and choosing when he’d like to play Test cricket, but the fluent 63, along with his energy in the field and his decision-making assistance to Behardien in the third T20, just reaffirmed his importance to the side. The knock came off the back of an explosive, unbeaten 134 for Northerns on Sunday. He’s slipped straight back into form, and will be a welcome inclusion at No 4 for the upcoming five-match ODI series, with one eye on building up some momentum ahead of the Champions Trophy.
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