So it is perhaps fitting that it is in the Friendly City where the Proteas are looking for an old-fashioned paceman to contain an ultra-modern, robust, England batting lineup for Saturday’s second ODI at St George’s Park.
AB de Villiers was diplomatic in defending his bowlers’ dismal performances in Bloemfontein on Wednesday, saying: “I’m not going to be too hard on my bowlers.” However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that South Africa’s execution with the ball was not up to scratch at the Mangaung Oval.
The cardinal rule of limiting extras in one-day cricket was not adhered to either, with four wides and an inexcusable nine no-balls delivered during the afternoon. Such ill-discipline against an English side containing batting mavericks Jos Buttler, Joe Root and Ben Stokes will be punished. And the trio warmed to their task, helping to record the tourists’ highest ever ODI score (399/9) on foreign soil.
The only excuse for the bowlers, particularly the new-ball pair of Chris Morris and Marchant de Lange, may be that they lack experience at the highest level. Collectively, the two have played only 13 ODIs and would have learnt a great deal on a billiard-table surface that masqueraded as the Mangaung Oval pitch.
Its unlikely that the strip at St George’s Park will be a “bowler’s graveyard” - as England captain Eoin Morgan described Bloemfontein - with the coastal wickets traditionally being slower and lower and not as conducive to free-flowing strokeplay as the pitches in the centre of the country and on the Highveld.
Nevertheless, the Proteas will seek greater consistency from their attack on Saturday, hopefully with a pack leader who can take responsibility from the outset.
Morne Morkel is the most experienced seam bowler in the injury-enforced absence of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, but the lanky fast bowler is not operating full out after a strenuous Test season and cannot expect to shoulder an even greater burden.
Therefore, with the Proteas management also still keen to rest Kagiso Rabada regardless of the state of the series - and rightly so after the 20-year-old’s Test exertions - the onus will most likely fall on returnee Kyle Abbott. It is understood that he has recovered from the hamstring injury that ruled him out of the opening ODI and curtailed his participation in the final Test at Centurion.
Although not vastly more experienced - Abbott has played 20 ODIs - the 28-year-old does possess a different skill-set that is obviously missing in the Proteas attack at the moment.
In contrast to De Lange, who relies on raw pace and banging the ball into often unresponsive surfaces, Abbott regularly aims to bowl a fuller length in order to swing the new ball up front.
He is also adept at bowling during the powerplays and at the back end of the innings where his slower-ball variations come in handy, while he is one of a few South African bowlers to deliver the yorker consistently.
The Proteas only arrived in PE late yesterday and were ordered to rest up before the show gets going again. They will need this recuperation time as there is little doubt that bowling coach Charl Langeveldt will spend a few extra hours with his charges simulating game situations today as the former Proteas swing bowler is a hard taskmaster who believes firmly in the mantra of “practice makes perfect”.
Cape TimesThe Proteas are looking for an old-fashioned paceman to contain an ultra-modern, robust, England batting lineup in the 2nd ODI in PE.
Original source: SA must stick to the rules