'We won't over analyse on bad performance,' says Proteas bowling coach Eric Simons
Having removed themselves geographically and emotionally from the outcome in Kolkata, the Proteas believe more good than bad emerged from their record defeat to India last weekend.
“We came away from that game with questions to be answered, discussions to be had and [India] probably had very few. They haven’t really questioned the way they have gone about the game and what they have and have not done,” said Proteas bowling coach Eric Simons.
What he and the bowlers have done in the last couple of days is reflect and analyse collectively and individually.
One bowler who certainly had a humbling experience at Eden Gardens was Marco Jansen who conceded 94 runs in 9.4 overs.
Before facing the Indians, he had been a pillar of strength for Temba Bavuma’s team, besides being the second highest wicket taker, he was also the most successful bowler in the first power play, taking 12 wickets in that period.
Jansen, still only 23, knows where he slipped up.
“The sense I got from him was that he went away from concentrating on himself to concentrating on the opposition, which happens in pressure moments, when you are up against the quality of batter we were playing against,” said Simons.
“I said to the bowling group — which I think frustrated them — that I was hoping we’d have some tough situations. It was a great learning experience for Marco individually but also for us as a group.”
“He is pretty calm about it. His answer to the question made complete sense: when you get out of your bubble and start worrying about what's on the other side of the pitch and not what you are doing on your side that can create [pressure].
“The noise at a place like that can add to it. He is a young cricketer, he is new to the game, and these moments will happen.”
Whether it was a truly great learning experience will only be determined when the Proteas play next, which is Friday against Afghanistan.
They too had a difficult day, being on the flipside of one of the greatest ODI innings’s from Glenn Maxwell on Tuesday night in Mumbai.
Often stuck on the crease like a statue because of cramps, Maxwell, scored an amazing 201 not out, blazing towering sixes, with a flick of the wrists, to propel his team from the brink of defeat at 91/7 to an extraordinary win, adding 202 runs with his captain Pat Cummins, who scored an unbeaten 12.
“I think the tactics they used in bowling to him probably suited him and the way he was playing,” Simons said of the Afghani effort with the ball.
The Proteas, he explained, spent a lot of time watching the opposition, taking tips from them that they could apply when they played.
“It is often a fertile place for us, to watch the opposition, see what they have done well, what they haven’t done well.”
From India seamers for instance, the Proteas have noted the “consistency of accuracy”.
“It’s the hallmark of the way they have bowled, to build pressure through that power play and take wickets, which is important in that phase,” said Simons, who has worked with some of the Indian players while being part of the coaching staff at the Chennai Super Kings.
“We have still taken more wickets in the power play,” he chirped pointedly.
Which is indeed the case, with South Africa having taken 19 wickets in the first 10 overs of the opposition innings, compared with 16 for India.
Providing those facts to the bowling unit, after they got blitzed at Eden Gardens, helped focus the minds on the bigger picture.
“We won’t get carried away by frustration about one bad power play, we have been outstanding in the power play. The bowling unit has settled into their roles and you don’t want to over analyse one performance that we weren’t as happy with as we have been with the others.”