Proteas have become followers

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The sense is that England, despite being 2-0 up and having seen some very good individual performances, can actually get better. SA, one feels, can, but the amount by which they can is limited because they simply don’t have the quality of personnel to match the tourists.

“You have to have the personnel to put in the team,” Hashim Amla said yesterday. “Our best bowlers are playing and our best batters are playing. If you have the personnel to bat deep and give variety with the ball, like England do, we’d pick them.”

England can tinker with players, shift their skipper Eoin Morgan between four and five, do the same with Jos Buttler or move Ben Stokes around the order too. Then there’s the make up of their attack, with a left-arm seamer who bowls with a lot of variety, a couple of right-arm seamers, an off-spinner and a leg-spinner. One the sidelines, there’s Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad.

What do SA have as an answer? Not much. They must hope Amla, after scores of 6 and 4, can find his touch, that Quinton de Kock replicates his excellent effort from Bloemfontein, that Faf du Plessis can turn starts into something substantial and that AB de Villiers rekindles the form of a year ago. And they must all do so at the same time, for the next three matches over the next six days.

Rarely has SA’s playing resources looked as scarce. At 0-2 in a five-match series they should be able to call on someone from outside of the starting eleven that looked so flat in the field in Port Elizabeth. But who? Chris Morris – he’s an honest trier but is erratic with the ball. David Wiese? Perhaps but again there are concerns about his output with the ball and his batting lacks consistency. But one of them has to come in for the Centurion match because it is clear that the Proteas can’t persist with Farhaan Behardien. What’s there for England to fear from him? With the bat he seems confused – as to whether to attack or ‘take the game deep,’ and with ball he just bowls straight, which won’t bother England’s lengthy batting order.

SA have struggled for nearly two years to solve their fifth bowler problem and no longer must the combination of JP Duminy and Behardien be an option. It didn’t work at the World Cup last year, and it’s certainly not working now.

At least with Morris or Wiese there’s a threat with the ball, there’s variety as both are capable of bowling cutters or slower balls and in Morris’ case he gives them a good option at the ‘death.’ They both can also hit the ball powerfully.

The worry from SA’s point of view is that picking one of them will weaken the batting but that must be measured against the fact that in one-day internationals recently, the No 7 batsmen has hardly won them a game. It’s the top order they rely on for runs, and if this series is to be turned around tomorrow then that top four must score lots of runs and do so as a unit.

It’s clear listening to Amla yesterday, that the Proteas envy England’s options. “Their bowling has been good and they bat really deep and that allows the English team to attack throughout the game,” said Amla.

“Because they bat to No 10 they can absorb pressure if they lose a few wickets, they have that cushion and can keep going. They are a well balanced team and in that regard they have the edge on us.”

Where once SA were regarded as – if not pioneers – then at least a team others wanted to mimic, especially in terms of strategy, now it’s De Villiers’ team that have become followers. The Test team is in the midst of a rebuild, and based on what’s been on offer in this series, it looks like the ODI unit will have to undertake a similar path. - Cape Times

With the series on the line, South Africa simply have to play better in Centurion this afternoon against England but can they?

Original source: Proteas have become followers

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