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30 July 2016 18:47 (South Africa)
Sport

SA vs ENG, ODI series: Guts, glory and some lessons to learn

  • Antoinette Muller
    still-a-boy copy.jpg
    Antoinette Muller

    Antoinette thinks of the world and the people who live in it as a bear with a sore paw. She has a stick covered in thorns and she’s poking the bear. When she’s not doing that, she’s watching cricket and longing for the days of the boring, boring Arsenal.

  • Sport
Photo: South Africa's David Wiese and AB de Villiers celebrate beating England during the One Day International Cricket match in Cape Town, South Africa, February 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

A century from captain AB de Villiers helped South Africa to a five-wicket win over England enabling them to bounce back from being 0-2 down to take the series 3-2. It was a solid effort from the Proteas, but there are still a few minor concerns as the team continues to build towards the 2017 Champions Trophy. By ANTOINETE MULLER.

South Africa claimed a five-wicket win over England at Newlands to win the fifth one-day international by five wickets and take the series 3-2. It seemed like an impossible feat at the start of the series and while the Newlands ODI wasn’t exactly the best advert for the format, it did produce some gems.

Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abbott kept things tight up front while the rest of the bowlers offered some support to keep England to a modest total of 236. Alex Hales was the stand-out player for England with his 112, but that not one other player managed to pass the 30-run mark says a lot about this young and relatively inexperienced bowling line-up.

The batsmen ran hot and cold with Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Rilee Rossouw, Farhaan Behardien and Rilee Rossouw failing, while Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and David Wiese dug in to see the side over the line. Barring Reece Topley's thrilling opening spell, there wasn't much good bowling to speak of from England's perspective.

South Africa eased home comfortably in the end. This series has been a great lesson for the side and while they all switch gears to the T20 format, there is the greater picture of the 2017 Champions Trophy to think of.

Here are five lessons South Africa can take from the series:

South Africa do not always know how to pace an innings

The Proteas did hold their nerve to win the fifth ODI but in the last two matches of the series they pushed things far too close. On both occasions, they were chasing modest totals and a few batsmen made poor decisions, getting out through dodgy shot selection rather than good bowling from the opposition.

Players were guilty of being far too aggressive when all they needed to do was nudge the ball around. In the Newlands ODI, there were just two substantial partnerships and while they still managed to sneak home and the scorecard will make it look as though they had done so easily, there are a few minor concerns about their approach to chases.

They do, however, have some bottle

The Proteas are only the third team in history to come back from being 2-0 down in a one-day series and it is the second time they have done so. For all the criticism levelled at the side – and there is plenty – the good news is that there reasons to be positive. On more than one occasion in this series, they pushed things far closer than they would have liked, but that they still managed to come out on top tells you that the right ingredients are there to be a really good side.

South Africa still don’t know what their best XI is in ODIs

Without any real context in terms of qualifying for tournaments, bilateral ODI series aren’t ever anything else than a money-spinner. However, there is at least some context to this series for South Africa. There is a Champions Trophy taking place next year and South Africa need to figure out who their best XI are and who the best back-up players are. This series went a long way in helping with that. From the chopping and changing in this series – from team selections to where Rilee Rossouw bats – it’s safe to assume South Africa haven’t figured out who their best XI is. That’s not a bad thing entirely. Testing out combinations now is worth it, even if it comes at the cost. The fact that they are not willing to take a few risks shows that there is a long-term plan at play here.

The strength in bowling depth can be dubious at times

One of the things South Africa was forced to test in this series was their bowling depth. With Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander both on the side-lines, Marchant de Lange, Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris and Kyle Abbott all got a chance to go on the merry-go-round. While the bowling was not diabolical, the lack of experience of the fringe players did show at times. In the final ODI at Newlands, South Africa did well to dismiss England for 236, but they weren’t exactly threatening. Many of those wickets came because England was batting as though they were already on the plane. There was also the small issue of 23 extras, 11 of those wides. Abbott and Rabada were decent (even with their extras added in), but the rest of the bowlers were guilty of bowling too short and too wide far too often. These are the things that will be fixed with experience, though, and the more this group of players play together, the better it will get.

Chris Morris and David Wiese have got something about them

Chris Morris showed the kind of bottle last seen from Lance Klusener when South Africa levelled the series with a thrilling one-wicket win at the Wanderers on Friday. While his bowling still leaves much to be desired, his match-winning 62 off 38 give South Africa some reason to be positive. His innings wasn’t just an all-out slog-fest. It was cool and calculated under the most intense pressure. Morris will only improve and, if they are bold enough to persist with him, he could solve the “all-rounder issue”. David Wiese, too, offers a better all-round option than either JP Duminy or Farhaan Behardien, which means South Africa could strengthen the batting even further if Behardien gets the boot. DM

Newlands ODI scorecard summary:

South Africa won by five wickets (36 balls remaining)

England 236 all out: Joe Root 112 (128); Kagiso Rabada 3-34

South Africa 237-5: AB de Villiers 101 (97); Reece Topley 3-41

Photo: South Africa's David Wiese and AB de Villiers celebrate beating England during the One Day International Cricket match in Cape Town, South Africa, February 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

  • Antoinette Muller
    still-a-boy copy.jpg
    Antoinette Muller

    Antoinette thinks of the world and the people who live in it as a bear with a sore paw. She has a stick covered in thorns and she’s poking the bear. When she’s not doing that, she’s watching cricket and longing for the days of the boring, boring Arsenal.

  • Sport

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