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Gandhi-Mandela Series: A Bowling Affair

01-Oct-2015
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The upcoming tour of India will be a tough one. Not only is it extremely lengthy, but South Africa will either return home wounded or victorious.

South Africa made a good call touring India just months before the ICC World Twenty20, which will be held there. Then picked a few of those cricketers who played well in India for the South Africa A side.

South African cricket supporters have expressed their feelings towards the squads to tour India. Overall, they gave them 10 out of 10.

If the squads look good, then South Africa shouldn’t have any trouble catching up to India in the ICC ODI Rankings or restoring the ICC Test Rankings points they lost in Bangladesh.

They are overjoyed that Quinton de Kock is back in the mix, even if it’s only in the shorter formats. This is probably based on his performance during the South Africa A tour in India not so long ago.

In contrast, spinner Simon Harmer received the most praise for his selection in the Test squad.

Even though supporters called for his return, it is still entirely up to de Kock because he has to fight his way back into the side. Maybe from the selectors’ point of view, it would have been unfair to drop Dane Vilas, who didn’t get a chance to play in Bangladesh. Besides, no one’s spot in the side is guaranteed – unless you’re AB de Villiers.

Sadly, David Wiese, who was given a run in the ODI side during the New Zealand tour, was omitted this time around and replaced by Chris Morris. This means South Africa doesn’t give players an extended run. Yes, Wiese’s fielding was below par, but he bowled well throughout the series.

Replacing Wiese with Morris means South Africa is sticking to a fourth pace bowler. With Behardien, they are losing another spin option. Perhaps South Africa feels the pace bowler will be better at holding the innings rather than a spin bowler. Either way, they are still sticking to the idea of having an all-rounder at number 7.

 

Graeme Pollock said there’s been enough experimenting and he’s right. By now, South Africa should have a good idea on who they plan on deploying at number 7. They should also have a good idea on how to play Behardien . It’s about time selectors sorted out the number 7 issue. This topic is either getting old or it’s just another excuse when things go wrong.

However, experimenting is not over yet. South Africa must be looking to know who to turn to and under which conditions. Even if that’s the case, they’ve made it a bit more challenging for themselves by bringing in Morris.

It was easy for supporters to praise the squads but they hardly took into account the fact that South Africa only has four pace bowlers for the Tests. It seems like a bad idea.

It’s safe to say that in one of those Test matches, young Kagiso Rabada should be given a chance to play. Not by playing four pace bowlers, that could be suicide; maybe resting one of the senior bowlers. Besides, some of those pace bowlers aren’t as fit as they used to be. This way, they eliminate the likelihood of injuries and the worry of missing out on facing England upon their return to South Africa.

What’s taking India so long to name their Test side? Maybe they are still trying to compile a team that will be the answer to South Africa’s Test team?

Still, it’s the subcontinent, India’s playground. In the shorter format, the Indians know all too well how to play T20s. They are familiar with it, particularly with most of their cricketers featuring in the IPL . Compared to the few South Africans who have played in the IPL, they are the only ones who know a bit more about the playing conditions in India, they can only tell the others what they can expect. The heat and humidity alone will be overwhelming.

Their dry and dusty pitches favour spin over pace and their batsmen are good with spin but are afraid of a bit of pace. So if subcontinent pitches are better suited for spin bowlers and India play spin well, it will be tougher for the specialist spinners South Africa has included. Not that the pace bowlers will be useless; who knows, one or two of those pitches could favour South Africa’s pace attack.

Pressure, there’s always pressure when going to such challenging tours. One man who will definitely be under pressure is Imran Tahir. The world touring cricketer has been seeking a return to Test cricket and now that he has his chance, he has to take as many wickets and concede as few runs as possible. If he fails, his Test career is over. This should be the last thing on anyone’s mind, since Tahir’s spin is better suited for Indian conditions and his success in the IPL backs him up. Even though India is yet to announce their Test squad, most of their players are right-handed, so Tahir’s bowling will definitely put them to the test.

So with all this knowledge, South African cannot turn around and say they misread the conditions because there’s no time for that. If Ishant Sharma brings his spells of rage to the pitch, then South Africa know that Dale Steyn is the answer.

The set up alone should drive enthusiasts wild - 3 T20Is, 5 ODI’s and 4 Test matches.

This will be a tour to remember.

 


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Thobeka ‘Beks’ Ngema. A cricket and football blogger who fell in love with both sports but event...

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