Sluggish wickets a great idea - Times LIVE
Sun Apr 23 14:00:57 SAST 2017

Sluggish wickets a great idea

Alviro Petersen | 2016-03-03 00:41:18.0
Alviro Petersen. File photo
Image by: Jan Kruger / Getty Images

Australia captain Steve Smith's remark that the South African groundsmen would be smart to prepare Indianesque wickets for the three-match T20 series could benefit both teams ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in India later this month.

The curators can do something to prepare slow, turning wickets for the T20s at Kingsmead and Newlands, but there's no chance at the Wanderers, as it's a venue that has bounce, carry and pace.

Teams like Australia and South Africa are generally not used to slower, turning wickets. However, there is no doubt that the Indian Premier League has brought the competition closer together, owing to the experience players have gained in subcontinental conditions.

There has been a suggestion in the Australian media that AB de Villiers has a potential weakness when facing right-arm spin in the game's shortest format. They must be smoking something because De Villiers is one of the better batsmen in world cricket when coming up against spin.

In fact, if you compare De Villiers to Australian batsmen when it comes to spin, he is head and shoulders above them. He boasts the touch-game, can manipulate the field and can comfortably clear the boundary.

Conversely, Australian batsmen just want to smash the ball across the boundary when they are under pressure.

While everyone is obsessed with De Villiers, the Proteas must guard against putting all their eggs in one basket.

Though De Villiers is capable of blowing Australia away even if he plays at 90%, South Africa need to fire as a team collective.

We must try to refrain from singling out individuals because if South Africa crash out of the World T20 in the playoffs, I'm sure people will say that coach Russell Domingo is to blame, or that the whole squad played poorly, rather than talk about a specific individual.

For my money, the 15-man squad Cricket SA has selected for the showpiece covers all the bases. The squad comprises strong all-rounders, quality batsmen, strike bowlers, a holding spinner in Aaron Phangiso and an attacking spinner in Imran Tahir.

Morné Morkel's omission is most probably due to the fact that South Africa feel they have sufficient strike bowlers in Dale Steyn, Kyle Abbott and Kagiso Rabada.

If Morkel had made the cut, an all-rounder would likely have been sacrificed. And an all-rounder is better suited to the rigours of T20 cricket than a player who only offers a bowling option.

The return of Steyn, sidelined with a shoulder injury for nearly two months, will prove significant for South Africa. It's appalling from those who have suggested that his time is up.

Steyn, 32, is a quality performer. He possesses pace, can reverse the ball and bowl effectively at the death. He also still has so much to offer the younger bowlers and his experience is invaluable, especially at Test level.

Meanwhile, it's utter rubbish that JP Duminy's position in the Proteas side should be called into question. Duminy is South Africa's best T20 player based on the stats. It's not something I have thumb-sucked.

He has scored more runs than any other South African batsman in T20 internationals - 1551 runs - and his batting average of 37.82 is bettered only by Faf du Plessis' 39.63.


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