What happened at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds was a great display for world cricket and well done to India.
But as South Africans we have to bear in mind that the result has no bearing whatsoever on who will, or won’t, win the world cup. This is the group stages; and the most important thing at this stage is to qualify for the knock out stages. The manner in which the Proteas go about getting there is perhaps less important than actually getting there.
However, after Sunday’s historic loss of 130-runs, the technical team needs to ask themselves questions and come-up with answers in order for us to get to the knock out stages.
The following questions are are at hand:
– Do we still play Quinton de Kock? He has been a part of the Proteas set-up even in the last series against West Indies. He got injured and in somewhat of a race against time they’ve had to work on his injury in order for him to make the squad. Now bearing in mind that a player does not only have to heal physically, but he also needs to make psychological adjustment before he gets back his confidence at 100%. Judging by his body language for both matches, against Indian and Zimabawe. Quinton de Kock has looked tentative and nervy.
The real catch 22 question is, do you play him again, or do you sit him out against WI?
– Do we change anything in the bowling attack? Farhaan Behardien was dropped in favour of Wayne Parnell. Some could say that the move back-fired with the all-rounder Parmel conceding 85 runs from his 9 overs. To his credit Parnell did finally dismiss Dhawan in the 44th over. One wonders if the criticism levelled against him would still be as bad had Amla caught Dhawan when he was still at 53 runs.
– Is this team capable of dealing with the psychological shock of an early Amla and de Villiers wicket? Let’s get one thing straight; most teams who have won games in the World Cup have posted 300 runs and over. This is a batsman’s’ world cup. Our team is all about the top 6, we can shuffle around the bowlers but the top 6 still needs to come to the party. But with Amla and AB picking off hundreds at will, you have to wonder what does the shock of loosing Amla and AB early do to the change room. You could argue that Miller and Duminy picked up the pieces in the match against Zimbabwe, while the counter argument is that the bowling attack was perhaps not of the same quality. It is not always that Amla and AB go early in the same match. In fact if Amla’s wicket goes before him reaching 50 runs, Proteas lose about 88% of their matches. You only have to see the kind of expressive celebration MS Dhoni let out when the AB de Villiers was dismissed, to realise the importance of these two wickets.
The question is, does the team have the psychological mantle not to panic if and when both weakest go early?
– Is the tail too long? Owing to the hamstring injury to seamer Vernon Philander who bowled just four overs. There was a need to shuffle things around, however if the decision is to play to 7 batsmen, do you play Wayne Parnell again at no. 7 or do you bring back Farhaan Behardien. Or better yet, do you play Rali Rossouw at number 7.
– Last question is this. Is this time to panic? With West Indies, Pakistan, Ireland and UAE in our pool is the loss against India enough to have us panic? Is the 130-runs loss, with a top order that managed to collapse twice, two of the world’s best batsmen sitting on the side-lines because of a run out, all wickets lost with 60 balls to go enough reason to panic? And if we did panic, what can we do?
The reality is we have a generation defining batting line up, in a batsman’s tournament. The far flung notion that a post-Jaques Kallis Proteas campaign being a bed of roses, should by now be extinguished by the India result. And so at this stage, it is very difficult to believe that we do not have enough talent in this team to dominate a knockout match – a first since 1999.
This team has a lot more to get through psychologically than what actually has to do with the actual playing. And I hope the technical team recognises that before succumbing to a knee jerk reaction.