Tue, 19 Jan 2021

In the aftermath of South Africa's opening T20 loss to England at Newlands on Friday, and even before the first ball was bowled, the word "balance" has been a talking point.

It was clear when skipper Quinton de Kock named his starting XI that the absence of a specialist allrounder - Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo were both unavailable - would be a potential concern.

George Linde, a spinner by trade who can hit the ball a long way, was named at No 7 in the batting order while the Proteas seemingly had only five bowling options.

The Proteas' 179/6 was competitive enough, but it meant that all five bowlers would need to turn out solid displays if the hosts were to get over the line.

As the English innings unfolded, the South African attack was stretched and with Tabraiz Shamsi proving expensive, De Kock took the decision to give an over to batsman Heinrich Klaasen.

It proved costly.

Klaasen travelled for 14 in his solitary over thanks to two Ben Stokes maximums and, with that, the momentum turned England's way and the 50-over world champions and No 2 ranked side in T20 cricket were relatively comfortable in securing the win.

Having a sixth bowling option, former skipper Faf du Plessis said after the match, is important.

"That's the challenge that we're obviously facing right now, which would be a bit of a selection issue for the guys," he said.

"We've lost Andile and Duane and both can fill the role of a sixth bowler. I'm a massive fan in T20 cricket of us needing six bowing options.

"I've seen it far too often in a five-man bowling attack that if one guy goes, it puts you under pressure. The allrounder plays such a crucial role in balancing the side."

It leaves the South African brains trust with a lot to think about heading into Sunday's second T20 in Paarl, especially if Phehlukwayo is unavailable once more as expected.

Pretorius will not play in the series as he recovers from a hamstring injury and the decision was taken not to call up a replacement.

Another noticeable omission from Cape Town was speedster Anrich Nortje, who was bowling with venom in the pre-match warm-ups but was not selected.

Instead, the Proteas backed a pace trio of Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Beuran Hendricks.

Ngidi (2/31 in 3.2) was expensive, but Hendricks' (0/56 in 4) fourth and final over that went for 28 was the final nail in the South African coffin.

"It's tough on Anrich," said Du Plessis.

"He's bowling really well at the moment, but it's a balancing act obviously with our team. Unfortunately for him tonight, he was at the bad side of it, but I know that when we go to Paarl the conditions will be different.

"He's bowling really well and I expect him to make inroads soon."

Du Plessis, meanwhile, is getting used to playing for the Proteas without the captain's armband.

His classy 59 on Friday proved that he still has much to offer at this level, but the 36-year-old's role in the side extends far beyond the runs he makes and catches he takes.

"I think it's important to assist and help, but also to not interfere too much," he said.

"I think it's great for Quinny now to have the opportunity to just learn ... I think he's really good tactically on the field.

"On the night, he probably saw it was a bit slower and chanced his arm with someone like Heinrich Klaasen. You know when you make a decision like that it is a gamble because he is a part-time bowler, but there were some other good decisions that he made tonight. Opening the bowling with George (Linde) was a good decision.

"Quinny is behind the stumps so it's important for me to still give advice and talk to the bowlers and make sure that there's clarity in their plans"

Play on Sunday starts at 14:30.

Source: News24

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