It’s been a while since the Proteas went from being completely capable to utterly inept, yet it seems some of the ghosts of ICC past have come back to haunt them. Some serious question marks will hang over AB de Villiers’ head after the team’s poor performance over the weekend, and the team needs to regroup fast. By ANT SIMS.
Cricket, especially Twenty20 cricket, is a funny old game. One day you are the cock of the walk; the next, you’re a feather duster. After their bizarre performance against Pakistan on Friday and their significant loss to Australia on Sunday, South Africa is more like a still-damp feather duster that’s been through the wringer.
Starting with Friday, it takes a special kind of ineptitude to make England look good against playing spin, yet somehow, the Proteas managed that with the way they approached Pakistan. Their shot selection was questionable and while the Pakistani bowlers are worth their salt, South Africa made them look a whole lot more competent than they actually were. JP Duminy, notoriously incapable against spin, spared the Proteas some blushes, however; and his 48 off 38 was the only score of more than 25 for South Africa as they sputtered their way to a measly 133-6 in 20 overs.
The biggest question mark will, however, hang over AB de Villiers’ captaincy. His decision to bat himself at six on Friday, below an inexperienced Farhaan Behardien, was the first in nail in what would be a very heavily nailed coffin for the Proteas over the weekend.
While South Africa has in the past been able to rely on bowlers to fend off the jaws of defeat, not even they could spare the team embarrassment in their latest performance.
It’s been a while since South Africa were so poor all-round – the Jekyll and Hyde routine was something they seemed to have shaken off, but perhaps it had all just been stored up to come out in one major disaster.
Robin Peterson has admitted that while the pressure of performing at ICC events has gotten to the team in the past, it’s a different ball game now.
“It’s difficult to say. AB made the calls at the time and he thought the bowlers he brought on would make an impact. We just stuck to our game plans… Maybe we need to revisit one or two things and move forward from there,” Peterson said.
“It’s [performing at ICC events] probably something that’s plagued us in the past. We are at a different tournament now. We still have another opportunity to get it right and we are doing things a little bit differently behind the scenes so, hopefully, things will go better for us.”
But having been walloped by both Pakistan and Australia in quick succession, South Africa has little time to regroup and rethink – if the team doesn’t want to walk out of another tournament clutching a wooden spoon.
South Africa 133-6 (20 overs): JP Duminy 48 (38), AB de Villiers 25 (20), Yasir Arafat 3-0-25-2, Mohammed Hafeez 4-0-23-2
Pakistan 136-8 (19.4 overs): Umar Akmal 43 (41), Umar Gul 32 (17), Dale Steyn 4-0-22-3, Robin Peterson 4-1-14-2
South Africa 146/5 (20/20 ov); Australia 147/2 (17.4/20 ov). Australia won by 8 wickets (with 14 balls remaining)
Photo: Australia’s Shane Watson (R) prepares to hit out watched by South Africa’s AB de Villiers during the ICC World Twenty Super 8 cricket match at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo September 30, 2012. REUTERS/Philip Brown
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