Death bowling under scrutiny

FILE PICTURE: Alan Donald chatting to Wayne Parnell during the South African national cricket team training session and press conference at Axxess St Georges on February 18, 2014 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

As the Proteas embark on a new season littered with 50-over assignments that build up to next year’s World Cup in Australasia, death bowling remains one of the areas of their game under scrutiny.

Numerous experts have pointed to South Africa’s deficiencies in that department and has been undermined to an extent by a revolving door policy on who should fulfil the responsibility.

Bowling coach Allan Donald has made no secret of his preference for cultivating an attack where any of his bowlers on the day can stifle the death overs slog.

But the real argument doesn’t necessarily lie in who should bowl, but how they should.

Consistent deliveries in the block-hole is perceived to remain the best recipe but don’t bank on the Proteas doing that.

Donald has argued that concentrating on yorkers places internal pressure on bowlers not naturally inclined to bowling them on the trot and can also become a predictable ploy.

This week, head coach Russell Domingo agreed.

“I know many abuse me for my obsession with statistics, but they show that the wider yorker goes for a lot of runs past point in ODIs,” he noted.

“If you get your length just slightly wrong with that type of delivery, it becomes very hittable.”

Domingo also believes it’s an unrealistic focus for most bowlers.

“There are very few guys who are able to bowl six yorkers in a row. Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga is the best at it and even he doesn’t try and do it all the time. He’ll mix it up with a slower ball, maybe a bouncer. Predictability at the back end is very dangerous.”

He added: “If you are just lining up to to bowl six yorkers and miss two of them that go for six, you’re already conceding 12 an over irrespective of whether the other four land right.”

As a result, Domingo incorporated bouncers and variation prominently in a presentation he made at Cricket South Africa’s level four coaching course this week.

“I’m an advocate of developing a wide arsenal of deliveries. Naturally your strategy will depend on the opposition and the wickets,” he said.

“A guy like Kumar Sangakkara ducks for most bouncers so it almost makes sense to bowl that to him. Not everyone is happy to bowl a bouncer, but we generally have bowlers who can do that.”

Faster, bouncier wickets in Australia will certainly render the strategy relevant.

“Teams that know you can bowl a short ball well will also have some doubt in their minds over that. That affects the positions they get into to counter the ball and that’s where wickets can come from.”

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