Why the Proteas’ batting is crippled

Faf du Plessis of South Africa gets out the way of a bouncer during the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between South Africa and India at The Hampshire Bowl on June 05, 2019 in Southampton, England. Picture: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Batting coach Dale Benkenstein blames history and conditions, but inconsistent selection policy certainly hasn’t helped.

The struggling Proteas batsmen seem to be battling with a multitude of travails at the World Cup, with batting coach Dale Benkenstein mentioning the weight of the South African team’s past history at the event as well as the different pitches they have played on as contributing to the malaise.

But the selection policies of the team have also surely not helped. South Africa came into the tournament with an unsettled batting line-up and then have not picked the same top six in any of their four games thus far.

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David Miller was the shock exclusion from the opening match against England, the concussed Hashim Amla was resting when Bangladesh shocked the Proteas, Aiden Markram sat out the India game and then JP Duminy was dropped for the washed-out fixture with the West Indies.

“Ottis Gibson has been very clear about picking the team based on the different sides we’re up against and the pitches we’ve had, and to be fair no-one is really making enough runs. I don’t think it’s too many changes and we only have seven batsmen to choose from anyway. We just need to get on that roll and then the line-up will be more stable,” Benkenstein said.

“Our history at the tournament also does not help, although we obviously try and put the history away, the guys do feel the pressure. In the past we’ve had amazing all-rounders and a very long batting line-up, now we’re relying on our top six. It’s also difficult playing against a different team every game, normally you play a few times against the same opposition and you can sum them up.

“Here you are playing one-off games and they’re also on different pitches, some of which have been really tough to bat on up front. The one in Southampton had extra bounce and was quite quick. We’re doing all the right things in our preparation but it’s just not happening for us. We’re practising as hard as we can and giving the batsmen as much confidence as we can, reminding them of when they were playing well,” Benkenstein added.

South Africa’s chances of making the semi-finals are now probably a similar ratio to the Rand’s value in the Eurozone, but Benkenstein says the Proteas still believe and they just need to be more patient.

“You don’t become a bad team in one week, we just need to get our heads down and get it right. And we can get it right, we’ve done it before. Because it’s the World Cup, maybe we think we have to do things better than before instead of just remembering how we’ve done things in the past. We don’t have to be Superman. Talking to the individuals though, they all feel good and that success is just around the corner.

“We just need to get the balance right, maybe the guys are trying to accelerate too fast. Head down and just ticking over means you have more batting at the end of the game and showing patience brings your good hitters at the end into the game. It’s up to the top six to bat the majority of the overs. You’ve got to look after the first 10-15 overs because if you’re in trouble then, it becomes very tough, especially with our batting line-up,” Benkenstein said.

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