Proteas bowlers need to improve execution

29 March 2023 - 13:51
By Stuart Hess
Lungi Ngidi  and the rest of the South African attack were guilty of executing poorly with the ball, which cost the home team the T20 series against the West Indies.
Image: SIPHIWE SIBEKO/ Reuters Lungi Ngidi and the rest of the South African attack were guilty of executing poorly with the ball, which cost the home team the T20 series against the West Indies.

The word “execution” was mentioned a lot in the wake of the Proteas’ seven-run defeat to the West Indies at the Wanderers on Tuesday night, which cost them the T20 series.

A narrow defeat like that will mean the small details will be pored over. Heinrich Klaasen’s dropped catch in the final over of the West Indies innings, the no balls and wides, that the West Indies out-hit the Proteas by 16 sixes to six and implementation of the bowling strategy are all elements that will be raised in the post-series review. 

“I would say from an execution point of view their bowlers executed far better than we did,” said the Proteas’ limited overs coach Rob Walter. 

That they did. The Proteas became fixated with protecting the short boundary to the eastern side of the ground and they allowed that to mess with their consistency. The West Indies, despite some frustration at conceding 11 wides, maintained a strategy of bowling full and cramping the South African batters, not allowing them to free their arms and use that short boundary.

“It tested our skills, logic told us to stay away from that short boundary. I thought the plans were good, but it was about execution. It was a tricky one with trying to stay unpredictable but also keeping the percentages in your favour,” said Proteas skipper Aiden Markram.  

In a series where bat dominated ball — even in the rained out first encounter last Saturday — there were plenty of lessons for the Proteas as they begin the new era under Walter. 

“It would be difficult not to be excited by what we have seen in these three T20s and in the 50 over stuff before that,” Walter said.

“We are getting there, we are making progress in how we want to play the game. We just scored the highest total in a T20 international run chase a few days ago and made 213 tonight [Tuesday].

“It is nice to see the guys playing with freedom and expressing their skills. There is more in the tank I believe.” 

Markram said he, ODI skipper Temba Bavuma, Walter and JP Duminy are all encouraging the players to adopt the more assertive mindset and not concern themselves too much with the consequences if they make mistakes.

“Each one has their options that they are really good at and they all have the absolute freedom to back those options,” he said.

“If it’s their strong suit but if it doesn’t come off on the day, no-one will ask questions. We will pretty much laugh it off, because we know it is their strength and in the next game they hopefully get it right.

“There are good signs with bat in hand that we are going in the right direction and it is good to see guys buy into the brand we are speaking about in terms of freedom and belief. There is obviously work to do but it is good to see positive results coming out of those chats.”

Next up are the two ODI matches against the Netherlands — left over from 2021 when the three-match series was called off because of the Omicron strain of Covid-19 — and the possibility of automatic World Cup qualification.

Those matches will be played at Willowmoore Park on Friday and at the Wanderers on Sunday.