South Africa, Sport

Cricket: Five talking points after the first round of South Africa’s ODI tri-series

Cricket: Five talking points after the first round of South Africa’s ODI tri-series

Despite being completely pointless in the greater cricketing context, the tri-series between South Africa, Australia and the West Indies is actually shaping up to be fairly interesting. The first round of matches are done and dusted and ANTOINETTE MULLER has five talking points from those fixtures.

After falling flat in their opening fixture of the Caribbean tri-series against the West Indies, South Africa bounced back against Australia on Tuesday night to win with a bonus point. The Proteas are tied at the top of the table with Australia – both sitting on five points – with each team in the series having won one and lost one.

This little jamboree now moves to St Kitts where the wickets are likely to be a little bit faster than the rank turners the teams had to face in Guyana. South Africa and Australia will meet again on Saturday, so there is plenty of time to reflect on the goings-on of their last two fixtures. Here are some of the highlights.

Transformation moving forward

During their victory against Australia, South Africa fielded eight players of colour, two of them black Africans. With transformation dominating the discourse, this was a milestone for Cricket South Africa, who have come under fire from South Africa’s sports minister recently. More important, those who want to cry “quota” will be hard-pressed that there was a player in South Africa’s XI on Tuesday who did not deserve to be there.

An unprecedented era for spin

South Africa find themselves in the curious position of having their spin stocks overflowing. Imran Tahir is a wily old fox who has proven time and time again that he is one of the best spinners in limited overs and he has been well supported by Aaron Phangiso recently. Where South Africa impressed though was picking the third spinner – debutant Tabraiz Shamsi. Shamsi took one for 36 on debut, and it would have been more were it not for the downright dubious umpiring.

He has emerged from obscurity somewhat after only playing franchise cricket in South Africa two seasons ago. From there, he earned himself a spot in the Caribbean Premier League and since then things have really taken off. Shamsi is unlikely to displace Tahir as first choice spinner any time soon and while his presence in the side for the remainder of this tour will be dictated by the conditions South Africa come up with, the fact that South Africa were willing to play “horses for courses” is refreshing.

The burden on the top order

A big issue for South Africa remains their reliance on their top four. Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers and Rilee Rossouw are pretty impressive names to have in any side’s batting line-up, but the Proteas rely heavily on these four to score the bulk of their runs. The balance of the side still seems slightly lopsided and while they got away with it against Australia, it cost them against the West Indies. Fortunately, this is exactly what this series is there for: to fine-tune the balance of the team ahead of next year’s Champions Trophy in England.

The curious case of Farhaan Behardien

Farhaan Behardien cops an endless amount of flak, and rightly so. Prior to Tuesday’s effort, he had scored just four half centuries in over 40 matches. But here is the thing about Behardien: he has a knack for digging South Africa out of a hole and that’s exactly what he did against the Aussies.

With South Africa in the soup at 97-4, and a lengthy tail below him, Behardien stuck around for longer than anyone else in the South African side – and the second longest out of both teams. He poked and prodded his way to a diligent 62, the second-highest score of the game for both sides – and helped South Africa to what, in the end, was a match-winning total of 189.

It’s not the first time he has done this. In the ODI series against New Zealand last year, he scored 70 in a losing cause and chipped in with a very useful 40 in the deciding fixture on a slow deck at Kingsmead. He averaged 40.00 in 2015.

A few good innings doth not a batsman make, but Behardien is slowly but surely turning into the player the selectors have always believed he can be.

The DRS system needs to be implemented uniformly

Quinton de Kock was given out leg-before after the Aussies reviewed the decision by the on-field umpire. In terms of being hit on the pads, De Kock was out for all money, but nobody could be completely sure that the ball did in fact not touch the bat. There is no Snicko or Hot Spot in this series and there seemed to be some doubt over whether there was contact with the bat. In cases such as these, where the host broadcaster does not have all the tech, the International Cricket Council has to seriously consider subsidising the cost of this technology. The decision review system is immensely valuable, but having it only partly implemented here, and not implemented there, is not a long-term solution to using it. DM

Photo: Andre Russell of West Indies catch by David Miller bowled by Imran Tahir of of South Africa during the 2016 ICC World T20 cricket match between South Africa and West Indies at Vidharbha Cricket Association, Jamtha, India on 25 March 2016 ©BackpagePix 


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Feeling powerless in politics?

Equip yourself with the tools you need for an informed decision this election. Get the Elections Toolbox with shareable party manifesto guide.