Where to start… Well, might as well come out & say it straight: This is going to be a long blog coz I’ve been quiet for far too long & nr.2: India is gonna crush us in the ODI series & it might be a pessimistic way of looking at the Proteas’ upcoming series against the world champions but it’s also a realistic one. Now I could be wrong & gaddamn I hope I am but when I look at India’s strengths as an ODI side & our weaknesses we’re in a heap of horseshit… Allow me to elaborate:
Batting 1st or 2nd for India isn’t that big of a deal
Strange enough, I haven’t noticed our abysmal struggles batting second until the panel of Inside Edge mentioned it on their show prior to our game against the Pakis last week Wednesday. But it became clear to me that we do have issues after being unable to chase a small (ish) total in Cape Town & then ofcoz shooting ourselves in both feet in PE. The only thing Jackkers & myself hope is it’s not come to a point where it’s a mental issue coz our history with ‘mental issues’ in the ODI format is well documented AND not for the right reasons. India on the other hand, seems to play better when chasing the game but with their ‘attack-from-ball-1’ approach have no issues putting up competitive totals and I think the nr.1 reason why they’re a formidable batting unit is based on my following point:
Structuring an innings
India will always get runs (sometimes in abundance) with Darwan opening their batting and what he does so cleverly is almost making the bowlers forget that his partner Rohit Sharma can tear them to pieces as well. So when Kohli comes in, India already has a moderate to very good run rate for him to work with but it doesn’t stop there. Kohli knows his game very well, knows when to consolidate, build or attack but the world’s nr.1 ODI batsman is such a brilliant player and in such good form that regardless of the situation, he keeps on scoring runs at a reasonable rate. The next moment you open your eyes he’s on 60, 70 odd and then start hitting any bowler to any boundary on the field. By then the likes of Raina or Dhoni (arguably the world’s best finisher) is by his side batting at run rates of 10+ an over and then it hearties Proteas.
Switch over to SA and it’s all BLEEP up with that batting order. Amla is one of best batsman but we seem to try everything to make his life a living hell. His batting partners at 2 & 3 switches more & quicker than Clark Kent in a phone booth and his middle order is like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates.. So by the time our best batter in AB de Villiers comes in, he has to attack from the get-go & take risks which up his chances of getting out so much higher than it ought to be. Then after his departure more often than not, we crumble and fall. Case & point: The PE game.
selection, Selection, SELECTION!!
Come on selectors; please don’t tell me that a year & some change away from the CWC, you still don’t know who our best team is or more specifically who our best batting unit is. Do you? Ok, you don’t. Let me help you out…
Drop Kallis!! Look I know this is a sensitive issue considering this is a guy that can easily be regarded as our greatest cricketer ever produced but it’s time we take emotion out of the equation & start thinking about how or what we can achieve without the big guy. And don’t get me started with the playing now & then stupid idea which was also very arrogant of him. Plus I don’t remember someone like Tendulkar doing that before the 2011 CWC. The funny thing is we just won a series away from home without him, against the same opponents we currently lost a series against with him in the team. Coincidence?? Maybe, maybe not But we did show we can win without him. And a question to the die-hard JK fans or history buffs: Can you recall 1 or 2 games when he really came through for us with the bat chasing a high total?
Open the batting with Hash & de Kock coz you get the best of both worlds: A left & right hand combination, an exciting, young attacking player to compliment a veteran opener with an excellent record. It’s obvious that they enjoy batting together so can you imagine how good they can be if given a run up to and until the end of the world cup??? Alternatively and I really didn’t want to suggest this but it is an option which is to open with Biff & de Kock and batting Hash at 3. Keppler mentioned that de Kock will find it a bit more difficult to bat at 3 than opening but I think that’s putting it lightly because unlike de Kock (at the moment) Hash has the maturity & know how to assess the situation much better than the former can at 3. The other problem I have with this is the Biff situation is well he like de Kock is a lefty and 2, I just sense that AB captains the side much better with him not there. I know these guys are pros & also good friends but in the heat of battle (especially a losing one) you’re not gonna tell me Biff doesn’t make suggestions to AB. The other thing is that Biff isn’t the player he once was. Now both he & can Kallis can still offer a lot in Test cricket but I think now is the time that they give way to other players in the ODI format.
Since we Loooove rotating our middle order much to irritation of this particular fan, why don’t we rotate players based on whether we’re chasing or not. For example: If we chase, bat AB at 3. That way he’s got time to settle but more importantly, as our best batsman, have a lot of overs to bat. Case & point: Kohli
If we bat first, anyone like Faf or JP or AB can come in but the latter cant come in lower than 4. And yes I said Faf. I know this guy has been awful in ODI’s the last year or so & I was one of the many who believed he should’ve been axed a looooong time ago but he can still play himself back into the squad for the world cup where the aussie wickets will suite his batting style.
So selectors, there you have it.
Play Hash, de Kock, AB, Faf, JP & Miller & let that be the end of it.
Back to the India series, another reason why I believe we’re going to struggle against India is because much like Pakistan, they also have some quality spinners. Yes, the likes of Ashwin, Mishra & Jadeja may all play second fiddle to one Saeed Ajmal but who doesn’t? Now the upside for SA is that this is going to be a tough, tough series where both batsmen & bowlers will be severely tested so it will show us where we are as a team with the CWC about 18 months away.