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Sat Aug 23 07:32:52 SAST 2014

Proteas need an anchor urgently

MARK SALTER at Trent Bridge | 05 September, 2012 00:09
South Africa's Morne Morkel practises his short ball in the nets at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England, yesterday Picture: LAURENCE GRIFFITHS/GALLO IMAGES

Whatever was said in the team meeting called to address South Africa's woeful batting performances in the past two ODIs, no one is pressing any panic buttons.

The word coming out from the camp is a rather simplistic assessment: "We just haven't scored enough runs."

More specifically, South Africa have had no one to anchor the innings as Amla did in the second ODI in Southampton, as Jonathan Trott did in the third match, and as Ian Bell did in the fourth.

They need to find stability if they are to win the fifth and final day-night match at Nottingham today.

"It was never a case of identifying problems," said Wayne Parnell at a press conference yesterday. "We know what is wrong. But we have a quality batting line-up and we are sure we can do better."

England wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter, who took three stumpings at Lord's, says England are completely unperturbed by South Africa's policy of rearranging their batting line-up to create left-right combinations.

The idea is to disrupt the bowlers' rhythm, but Kieswetter believes the tactic is ineffective.

And Parnell, while signed and sealed at No7, does not believe the sudden changes in position affect the batsmen.

Dean Elgar, for example, has batted at four, three and six; JP Duminy at three, six, and three.

"We have some versatile players who can bat in any position," said Parnell. "Dean has batted from one to six in domestic cricket. He is pretty well adapted to batting in any position.

"Faf [Du Plessis] has done the same. It's not the batting order that is the problem, we know we just have not scored enough runs. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."

What was left unsaid was how disruptive it is for a batsman, expecting to be next man in, to have his mental bubble burst by being "stood down".

Parnell tried to put a bowler's spin on the mediocre totals. "We look upon it as a massive challenge," he said. "We know we have to come out and take wickets. They are not under pressure, so it is up to us to make it happen. It just so happens they have batted well."

England will definitely be without their anchorman Trott, who took a painful blow on the hand from Dale Steyn early in his innings at Lord's on Sunday.

It is likely that Jonny Bairstow will take his place. He has been waiting for an opportunity following his impressive return to the side at Lord's, although Somerset's Jos Buttler has been called into the side as cover.

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Sat Aug 23 07:32:52 SAST 2014 ::