Sport

Consistency – the goal that’s still eluding the Proteas

By Ant Sims 15 March 2013

The current one-day cricket side has been somewhat up and down in terms of performance, but skipper AB de Villiers insists that the team has plans firmly in place in order to progress as a unit. By ANT SIMS.

South Africa finds itself in a familiar situation heading into the second ODI against Pakistan on Friday. They won the first match convincingly and are favourites heading into the second, even with a mixed squad which compromises of a host of rookies.

But so very often in the last year, South Africa has failed to live up to the expectations it has created, and the team has been unable to run with momentum in the shorter format of the game. The Proteas have won eleven out of their last 20 matches, and while that’s not the worst record, the lack of consistency is troubling.

Skipper AB de Villiers admits that it’s something the side is working on, but also says consistency within the team environment is a different thing to what the general public may understand the term to mean.

“Our consistency in the last year has been very poor, and it is something we want to improve on. But consistency for the public is not the same as it for us. For us, it’s in things like the way we train, and that we are consistently good there as well,” De Villiers said.

“There is no such thing as a perfect team, and we are not trying to be that. We just want to improve every game.”

Allan Donald said on Wednesday that the team was trying to create match scenarios instead of just having a net session, which prepares players for dealing with high-pressure situations, and helps them get to know their role in the side.

One player with a key role to play is Lonwabo Tsotsobe. With 39 caps under his belt, the 29-year-old  is becoming one of the senior players in the side. He can be devastatingly effective with a new ball, but has seemingly struggled to assume that responsibility sometimes. Donald believes Tsotsobe does understand his role, however, and that he is still growing on the international stage.

“He’s a smart cricketer and a smart bowler. In every game, he understands his role, and he executes brilliantly under pressure. He’s starting to  perform more and more on the bigger stage. I’m really impressed with what I’ve seen from Lopsy in the last few games,” the bowling coach said.

South Africa also has to work out how to counter spin continuously. The skipper is confident that the team has worked out how to do this, and insists that as long as the batsmen stick to their plans, the Proteas will come out trumps.

“But we’ve worked really hard to figure out exactly what makes them so good, and we’ve come up with a nice plan to counter-attack them,” said De Villiers.

Rotating the strike is something South Africa did well in the first match, but De Villiers still believes that the side still has a long way to go in the future.

“It was a step in the right direction, but we’re still way off where we want to be… It’s a massive series for us and there are still four big games coming up, so we still need to play good cricket to win the series,” De Villiers insisted.

South Africa will be boosted by the return of Dale Steyn, who missed out on the first ODI after visiting his girlfriend in Los Angeles, but Morne Morkel is still out through injury.

Kyle Abbott is most likely to get the chop as the most inexperienced member of the squad, and after a fruitless outing in the first match. 

Winning the second ODI will put South Africa well on course to clinch a series victory. But the team hasn’t played at Centurion for a year, and lost the last match they played there by 93 runs (on D/L) after a dismal batting display, where Faf du Plessis top scored with 27. DM

Photo: South Africa’s captain AB de Villiers celebrates his fifty runs during their one-day international cricket match against Pakistan in Bloemfontein March 10, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

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