Cricket 27.11.2013 06:00 am

Proteas feel the heat

FILE PICTURE: Dale Steyn. Picture: Gallo Images.

FILE PICTURE: Dale Steyn. Picture: Gallo Images.

When the Proteas pitched up for training here at St George’s Park ahead of today’s second one-dayer against Pakistan, the top-order had to rely mainly on local net bowlers to supply them with some practice.

There was nothing untoward. Instead, Dale Steyn, Wayne Parnell and Morne Morkel were all summoned to the middle strip where they padded up and faced some throw-downs.

“Runs from the lower order is what this game’s all about sometimes,” noted captain AB de Villiers yesterday.

“We’ve seen many international matches won by tailenders contributing with the bat. It’s really important for us in this one-day setup to cultivate such a culture. This is a funny game. You can easily lose wickets in clusters and then the equation changes.”

As recently as the first game of the series in the UAE that fact became apparent when Parnell’s newfound competence and Lonwabo Tsotsobe’s doggedness helped them reach a small total they eventually managed to defend.

Yet despite South Africa’s well-ingrained culture of relying on all-rounders – remember the Bob Woolmer/Hansie Cronje combinations of the Nineties – they truly need to start demanding accountability from the proper batters.

It’s arguably their Achilles heel in the format currently.

Naturally much focus has been placed on the burdens Dave Miller, is currently experiencing at No 6 but De Villiers was adamant no underperforming member’s place is safe.

“You’ve never nailed down your place. Not even a guy like Jacques Kallis is a certainty. That’s just the way it works in this team and that’s how I was introduced to this level,” he said.

“The key is that you’re still backed by team management but I was also told numerous times when I started that it could be my last chance. It’s a good test for resolve. Dave’s got our backing.”

That reality will need to be taken to heart if South Africa are to avoid a first bilateral series loss to Pakistan at home.

 

 

 

 

 

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