Proteas focus on better fielding

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Jennings is a tough taskmaster and Friday’s two-hour session under a hot Joburg sun was energetic and thorough.

There were one-handed catches, reverse one-handed catches as well as catches on the full run, catches while diving and getting to balls after lying on their backs.

It was akin to military training for cricketers, but most of the players appreciated the importance thereof and were willing to suck it up after their poor showing in Centurion, when six catches were dropped in New Zealand’s innings.

De Villiers had bemoaned his side’s lethargic display in the field and if there is anything Jennings despises in players it is a lack of energy.

It was no surprise to hear him bark out orders and create little competitions between the players and the coaching staff, often shouting out as they got under the ball, “the pressure is on now!”

There may not be many benefits to playing an international series here at this time of year, but sessions such as Friday’s will stand everyone in the squad in good stead - maybe not Sunday in the second ODI against New Zealand - but certainly later in the year when the tougher and more prestigious assignments occur.

“We have a reputation as being one of the best fielding sides in the world,” said Imran Tahir.

“We are in the off-season, and though we know our standards, maybe we were too relaxed (on Wednesday).

“So it was a good session to wake us up and get us to where we want to be.”

Tahir played a limited part in the session, having to receive treatment for “muscle fatigue”.

He managed to bowl a few deliveries later, suggesting he should be fine for Sunday’s match where he will hope to repeat the fine performance he produced in Centurion.

He has become so good, De Villiers said on Wednesday night, that he just throws Tahir the ball and doesn’t say anything about where he needs to bowl.

“He knows his game so well and what areas he wants the batsmen to hit too, I just leave it to him.”

Tahir was grateful for his captain’s praise and said the confidence he has in his bowling, stems from experience. “I’ve been playing for a long time, all over the world, and that has given me confidence. I really want to be that guy that (De Villiers) can trust.”

Though at the advanced age - in sporting terms - of 36, Tahir retains the same enthusiasm as a 20-year-old celebrating wickets as if they’re his first, not 71st.

“I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity. It’s been a dream of mine to play international cricket and so I’m so appreciative of what South Africa has done for me, and wearing this cap means so much to me.”

He played the last of his 16 Tests against the West Indies last season, but it remains an ambition to get back in the five-day side even though he suffered more trauma than triumph in that format.

“It definitely burns that I’m not in the Test side. That is the only challenge.”

Sunday’s match in Potchefstroom starts at 10am.

Squads:

SOUTH AFRICA: AB de Villiers (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Aaron Phangiso, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, Morné van Wyk, David Wiese

NEW ZEALAND: Kane Williamson (capt), Doug Bracewell, Martin Guptill, Grant Elliot, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Mitchell McLenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Luke Ronchi, Ish Sodhi, Ben Wheeler, George Worker

Saturday Star

After AB de Villiers graded the Proteas fielding as “four out of 10” against New Zealand.

Original source: Proteas focus on better fielding

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