Proteas live in hope after another difficult day Down Under
As cricket in South Africa partied and dished out millions in cash at Newlands on Saturday night, 11,000km away, the team supposedly representing the country was wondering how it could avoid further embarrassment in New Zealand.
“The coach asked for some fight,” Proteas batter David Bedingham remarked after the opening day of the second Test in Hamilton on Tuesday.
“I’m glad we showed lots of fight, especially at the end,” he added.
Shukri Conrad, while being philosophical about the Proteas’ prospects after defeat in the first match last week, still cut a somewhat dejected figure in its aftermath.
This is not the kind of team he wants to oversee in what are just his fifth and sixth matches respectively in charge of the Proteas. But these are, as he has often said, the cards he’s been dealt and in trying to wrench something out of the players, he has appealed to their individual pride.
A spot in the Proteas team is certainly up for grabs at the top of the order after Dean Elgar's retirement. It’s the same in the middle order, where Bedingham, who made his debut against India on Boxing Day, plays.
Others like Zubayr Hamza and Keegan Petersen have in three innings in this series dropped down the pecking order, failing to take the opportunities on offer.
Among the seam bowlers it is highly unlikely that Tshepo Moreki, Duanne Olivier or Dane Patterson will get another crack at the Test side — unless a similar scenario around scheduling arises as was the case this year.
For Dane Piedt and even Shaun von Berg, the prospect of a tour to Bangladesh and the West Indies should spur them on over the next few days in Hamilton, where Rachin Ravindra, still only a part-time spinner, got through 21 overs on the opening day on a green pitch and picked up three wickets.
However, for that to occur the team needs to bat better and while Bedingham is right that Ruan de Swardt, who finished day 1 on 55 not out, and Von Berg, making his debut at age 37, who is on 34, did show plenty of grit in the final session, it is New Zealand which is on top.
Those players in New Zealand, while obviously grateful for the opportunity, must still have looked on with some envy at the SA20 final at Newlands which was played in front of a full Newlands, while they battled to keep in touch with the Black Caps in front of a thousand spectators at Seddon Park.
Besides the prospect of making history and getting a few miles in their legs before Australia arrive next week, this series is doing very little for New Zealand cricket.
Their players’ attitude has been admirable, something Conrad praised in Mt Maunganui. Bedingham felt they bowled better on Tuesday than they did in that first Test, with the addition of Will O’Rourke’s extra pace and Neil Wagner’s bouncers, creating even more difficulties for the Proteas batters.
Hopefully the remaining batters can bat for an extended period of time and our spinners can get some purchase out of the wicketDavid Bedingham
“I thought we batted quite well, but in saying that when you create pressure, false shots happen and New Zealand did that really well,” said Bedingham.
Nevertheless, the shots that led to the downfalls of Hamza, Petersen and Raynard van Tonder will have infuriated them and Conrad.
It meant Bedingham had to forgo his normally aggressive style and South Africa were forced to keep New Zealand at bay in the second session, rather than looking to revert pressure — something De Swardt and Von Berg only managed to do in the final hour of play during their partnership of 70.
Bedingham expected the surface to flatten on days 2 and 3, when it should be at its best for batting.
“Hopefully the remaining batters can bat for an extended period of time and our spinners can get some purchase out of the wicket [later].”
Domestic four-day fixtures
Meanwhile, the domestic four-day series resumes on Wednesday with four matches, including the table-topping Titans, who head to Pietermaritzburg to face KwaZulu-Natal Inland.
Less than 20 points separate the top five, with just two rounds of matches remaining. The top two teams will meet in a five-day final at the end of February.
- KZN Inland vs Northerns Titans, Pietermaritzburg;
- Warriors vs Western Province, Gqeberha;
- Central Gauteng Lions vs Boland, Johannesburg; and
- North West vs KZN Dolphins, Potchefstroom.
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