Lungi Ngidi. (Photo by Marco Longari / AFP)
At the Oval in Kimberley
- Proteas skipper Temba Bavuma sought to defend the bowlers in the ODI series against England despite their struggles.
- He believes it was more a case of both teams’ batters performing well than any glaring shortcomings from the men with the ball.
- The third ODI in Kimberley though was a reminder of having a game-breaker like Jofra Archer in harness when the going gets tough with the ball.
Temba Bavuma has come to the defence of both the Proteas and England bowling attacks after they were generally carted to all parts in the ODI series, which concluded with a consolation 59-run here for the visitors on Wednesday night.
Steady economy rates and regular scalps were in short supply in a three-match skirmish that saw South Africa’s rotated attack conceding, on average, a total of 320.
World champions England weren’t exactly much better with a figure of 310.
But the Proteas skipper believes that focusing too much on those struggles detract from the fact that the batting was quite outstanding.
Indeed, for the first time in a substantial while, local pitches consistently favoured the willow, which brought with it the added factor of the home side’s bowlers not having inherent assistance.
READ | Jofra Archer’s incredible six-for the difference as Proteas fall short in another run fest
“It’s a hard one,” said Bavuma, who ended the series with 180 runs at an average of 60 and strike rate of 115.
“Even from a batters’ point of view, the wickets were very good. I guess that’s what you expect in ODI cricket. Both teams came out in an aggressive fashion and really tried to put the bowling attacks under pressure.”
South Africa’s beleaguered batting order – regularly criticised recently for lacking oomph – did stand up well as at least one different player took the lead in each of innings.
On Wednesday it was Heinrich Klaasen, who’s brilliant 80 off 62 deliveries gave his side real hope of claiming a sensational if improbable 3-0 series win.
“We’re getting challenged as a batting group to adopt a different mindset,” he said.
“We always are positive, but the implementation is now more ruthless. If the shot is on, you play it over and over. There are different ways to getting to a total of 350. If it’s your night, you have to take the opportunity. We’re doing it.”
Bavuma also intimated that the flatter wickets were merely a chance for the bowlers to become re-acquainted with being more adaptable.
“The quality of the bowlers on both sides are high. The skill levels are definitely among the best. Maybe it just speaks to the quality of the batting that was on display in this series, maybe that needs to be appreciated a bit more than just having a go at the bowlers,” he said.
“White ball cricket is hard on the bowlers. You don’t have a lot of guys on the boundary, you’re contending with two new balls. So reverse swing is not much of a factor.
“For me, it was about the quality of batsmanship.”
Naturally then, the value of a quintessential game-breaking bowler like Jofra Archer, who was mesmerising in claiming a career-best haul of 6/40, is writ even larger.
“Bowlers like him are definitely valuable, especially when you get on batter-friendly wickets. If you have a guy with raw pace, going on 150, you really have a competitive advantage, because they really can get wickets when other guys can’t,” said Bavuma.
In an Anrich Nortje, the Proteas have their equivalent – especially if he’s used in tandem with the proven class of Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, who was the other standout bowler on Wednesday with 4/62.
“We have those guys in our team. They weren’t necessarily on display today, but when they’re here they’ll definitely showcase their X-factor tag.”