ICC World T20: SA vs. Netherlands – five talking points
Poor batting, dodgy bowling and dubious captaincy decisions nearly saw South Africa lose to the Netherlands in their Super Tens World T20 match on Wednesday. Equally poor batting from the Dutch and good bowling efforts from Imran Tahir and Dale Steyn spared the Proteas’ blushes in the end.
South Africa clinched a six-run victory on Thursday to ensure their chances of qualifying for the semifinals of the competition remain alive. However, their performance leaves more questions than answers and after tense finishes in all three of their group games, the future for South Africa’s fans looks fingernail-less.
In their chase of 146, the Dutch got to a point of needing 32 off just 48 balls with six wickets in hand. Steyn and Tahir then started the capitulation which eventually led to the Netherlands’ demise. A thrilling win it might have been, but deserved it was not. Here are five talking points from the game.
Captain, our captain
Faf du Plessis doesn’t have the easiest job in the world at the moment. With liabilities like Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Albie Morkel in his bowling arsenal, fiddling them to be at least marginally effective is tricky. Still, it doesn’t explain why he didn’t open with Dale Steyn, why he kept Tsotsobe on after he was whacked for 18 runs or why he kept Imran Tahir back for ages. Against teams with a long tail like the Netherlands, it can be argued that keeping your best bowlers for later on will ensure the collapse is triggered almost instantly. However, against teams who aren’t used to the pace of players like Steyn, it makes no sense to hold him back so late. Similarly, Tahir only came on in the seventh over, when the pressure had already been deflated significantly. South Africa got out of a sticky spot on Thursday, but against more experienced sides, especially those with lower-order power hitters, it will cost them.
Stephan Myburgh was leading the Netherlands’ charge by picking up anything outside off-stump and whacking it to the fence. Lonwabo Tstotsobe decided the best way to counter this was to bowl outside off. While once upon a time, Tsotsobe was a very handy short format bowler, his performances have disintegrated into Jekyll and Hyde inefficiency, but he cannot be solely to blame. South Africa’s bowlers have seemingly rid themselves of the ability – or will – to bowl yorkers. A delivery which once upon a time was the stock delivery in every fast bowler’s arsenal doesn’t seem to exist for South Africa’s bowlers. Even Dale Steyn rarely bowls yorkers. It’s a phenomenon almost as mysterious as AB de Villiers’ inefficiency in T20 internationals.
After being embarrassed against Sri Lanka, being bowled out for 39, the Dutch needed a strong comeback. Many of their bowling exploits were thanks to some horrendously poor decision-making by South Africa’s batsmen, but at least there was some hope. Ashan Malik, a Dutch player actually born in Holland, took five for 19 while South African-born and -based Stephan Myburgh whacked 51 off 28 for a little bit of Associate Nation fight back. Much has been made about the place the associates have in a tournament like this and, after the capitulation against Sri Lanka, the naysayers had plenty of ammunition. The equation isn’t quite that simple. For the associates to improve, they need to play more cricket, especially against full members. To marginalise them in the shorter format of the game and force them to qualify for a tournament they’ve already qualified for isn’t going to help the cause at all.
Hashim Amla in the T20 format is still an anomaly. Domestically he had a good season in South Africa. Internationally, it still feels as if though he is somewhat out of place. Against the Dutch, with Quinton de Kock dismissed early, Amla adapted his game. His strike-rate was 195.45 and he looked at ease playing like that. With so many explosive hitters around him, perhaps Amla is being stifled with this mature role that has been thrust upon him. With two consecutive 40s under his belt, both coming under different circumstances at distinctly different strike rates, it’s surely only a matter of time before Amla finally clicks for the perfect T20 innings?
Albie Morkel was picked in the side to be a slogger first and a bowler second. He’s not really managed to do either of those roles perfectly. Despite being promoted up the order by South Africa on Thursday, he gobbled up 11 eleven balls and had just five runs to show for it. Domestically, Morkel is great because against lesser bowling, he can tee off right from the start. Internationally, he just can’t get it right. It wasn’t even a good delivery which got Morkel out this time around, it was just silly shot selection. As a bowler, Morkel isn’t exactly going to rip the heart out of batting attacks. It wasn’t his fault that he was thrust into opening for South Africa on Thursday, but he doesn’t offer the team much at the moment. The worst part is that there isn’t much bench strength either. The back-up batsman is Farhaan Behardien, a player who has a top score of just 31 in T20s. One option for South Africa is to get rid of Tsotsobe and bring in Wayne Parnell. Parnell’s bowling is sometimes dubious, but no more than Tsotsobe. He offers real pace and can bulk up the struggling batting line-up.
South Africa 145-9 (Hashim Amla 43; Ashan Malik 5-19)
Netherlands 139 all out (Stephan Myburgh 51; Imran Tahir 4-21)
South Africa won by six runs. DM
Photo: South Africa’s Imran Tahir. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
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