What did you really expect from the Proteas in the T20 World Cup? Batting collapses, below par death bowling performances, drop catches at crucial moments and an obvious inability to stay calm when it matters most. The South African cricket team managed to steer clear of those usual obstacles. They had a terrible opening game against Australia during which it seemed as if the belief just wasn't there. At the same time I have to say that I don't think I have ever seen a tournament where winning the toss has been so important. Even though the format is so short, the team fielding first almost always had a big advantage. That does not justify scoring only 118 runs in your first match in a global tournament.
South Africa bowled Bangladesh out for only 84 runs. That was the real opportunity to improve their net run rate. It took a little bit longer than expected to achieve the total. Australia managed to win their games more convincingly and they reached the semi-finals by virtue of a better net run rate. A bitter pill to swallow indeed, but a brave performance by a team that had been given no chance of getting close to the play-offs. The Proteas proved that they can beat the best with a 10 run victory against England. The team does not intend to roll over and become an easy target, but it is imperative that young talent is kept within the borders of the country and that they are nurtured to become the best that they can be. Otherwise, I am afraid that the Proteas will always be one step behind the regular top performers.
The future of Protea cricket
I wish I could say that the Protea wasn't facing extinction, but I fear that it may be the case. If there is a fourteen year old prodigy in South Africa that could be the next Jacques Kallis, there is a pretty good chance that he might end up paying for England or New Zealand. I am not sure if the people in charge of South African cricket want the team to succeed. The way that the sport is being managed does not fill me with any hope that things will get better. What happens on the field is becoming increasingly trivial. South Africa is an incredible sporting nation, but the trajectory is pointing in the wrong direction.
The Protea represents excellence. This is a team that once boasted four batsmen with averages over 50 in test cricket and the most feared bowling attack in world cricket. This team personified the 'never say die' attitude. What we are seeing now is simply not good enough. Young players will surely pursue other sports because the iconic figures that we have gotten used to in the past are not in the setup any more. It is sad to see that something that played such a big part in my life growing up is simply wilting away and it is not because of a lack of talent. It is just bad management.
Sri Lanka vs South Africa 1st ODI
Sri Lanka vs South Africa 1st ODI (D/N), Colombo (RPS), Sep 2 2021
Sri Lanka 300/9
South Africa 286/6
Sri Lanka won by 14 runs
I have to confess that there were a few names in the Sri Lanka team that I have never heard of. Had it been five years ago, I would have said that the Sri Lanka team would never be able to cope with what the Proteas have to offer, but sadly that is no longer the case. Sri Lanka managed to post a very good total on a slow pitch in very hot and humid conditions. Avishka Fernando scored 118 off only 115 balls and he was supported well by De Silva and Asalanka. Even though the Protea spinners were very economical, they didn't manage to stop partnerships from building. The pace men weren't creative enough and they went for runs on the slow Colombo pitch.
The South African batsmen started well and they seemed to be in control of the game until Bavuma had to go off injured as his thumb got in the way of a throw that was aimed at the stumps. Aiden Markram was scoring at more than a run a ball when he was joined by van der Dussen. Markram was caught on the boundary for 96 and one could sense that the advantage was slipping. I get the feeling that the Protea's long tail weighs heavily on the minds of the specialist batsmen. It is a huge part of the modern game, but the risky sweep shots still make me cringe. Verreynne and van der Dussen both lost their wickets while playing sweep shots. It was a valiant effort but the cramped up, sweat drenched Protea batsmen just ran out of steam.
Ireland vs South Africa 3rd T20I
Ireland vs South Africa 2nd T20I, Belfast, Jul 22 2021
South Africa 189/2
South Africa won by 49 runs
The South African top order fired in a much needed dominant batting performance. Temba Bavuma top scored with 72 runs off 51 balls. We need the captain to be on form going forward, so this was a big positive. David Miller looked good again as he finished the innings with 36 of 17 balls. The Proteas depend on Miller to be the big hitter at the end of the innings.
Ireland struggled to get going and build partnerships. The Proteas fielding and catching also improved from the first ODI and there will be a lot of positives to take from this tour.
Ireland vs South Africa 2nd T20I
Ireland vs South Africa 2nd T20I, Belfast, Jul 22 2021
South Africa 159/7
South Africa won by 42 runs
South Africa won the toss and chose to bat first. De Kock scored 27 runs of 20 balls but the rest of the top around failed to amass anything worth mentioning. David Miller finally scored the type of innings that has been lacking in recent times. He scored 75 runs off 44 balls which included 4 sixes in the last over. Wiaan Mulder provided good support with 36 runs off 26 balls.
Even with a few new faces on this tour the Protea bowlers were devastating. The Spinners dominated with Bjorn Fortuin and Tabraiz Shamsi taking three wickets each. Beuren Hendricks also chipped in with two wicket. Inconsistency in the batting department is still a major concern for the Proteas even though it was a comfortable victory in the end.
Ireland vs South Africa 1st T20I
Ireland vs South Africa 1st T20I, Dublin (Malahide), Jul 19 2021
South Africa 165/7
South Africa won by 33 runs
Most of the Protea batsmen managed to get a start on a slow pitch that made scoring difficult. The par score at the Malahide ground in T20 internationals is 162, so 165 seemed to be just enough to compete. At least one of the South African batsmen needed to cumulate a score of more then 50 to post a good total.
The South African bowlers struck early and wickets kept falling. The world number one T20 bowler, Tabraiz Shamsi, was excellent again. He took 4 wickets for 27 runs in 4 overs. The matches move to Belfast for the next two matches. I hope the conditions a are more favourable for attractive cricket.
Ireland vs South Africa 3rd ODI
Ireland vs South Africa 3rd ODI, Dublin (Malahide), Jul 16 2021
South Africa 346/4
South Africa won by 70 runs
Janneman Malan and Quinton de Kock couldn't have started the South African innings any better after a disappointing defeat three days ago. De Kock scored 120 runs off 91 balls and Malan ended his innings on 177 not out off 169 balls. Rassie van der Dussen made 30 runs to support Malan. Janneman has the talent and the temperament to play for the Proteas in all three formats of the game.
I was impressed by the way Ireland played the match, even though it was a heavy defeat. They look like a well balanced, confident team. They work hard to bring young talent into the starting eleven and I hope that we will see them compete at a higher level in the future. Even though early wickets fell, we saw an impressive batting display by the South African born Curtis Campher and Simi Singh. The latter scored 100 off 91 balls. Despite a valiant effort, they ended well short of the total.
Ireland vs South Africa 2nd ODI
Ireland vs South Africa 2nd ODI, Dublin (Malahide), Jul 13 2021
South Africa 247/10
Ireland won by 43 runs
The Irish batsmen looked comfortable from the start of the innings while the Protea bowlers struggled to find their lines. Rabada managed to beat the bat a few times but good deliveries were often followed by bad balls and this released the pressure. It was a bad day in the field for the Proteas as well. The fielding resembled a friendly match between friends after a few beers. Balbirnie top scored with a splendid 102 off 117 balls.
Janneman Malan started well and justified his inclusion. He was supported well by van der Dussen after Markram and Bavuma failed with the bat. The normal batting collapse, that we are unfortunately getting used to, meant that the Proteas were always behind the asking rate. Ireland thoroughly deserved the win and the Proteas have a lot of work to do before Friday.
West Indies vs South Africa 5th T20I
West Indies vs South Africa RESULT, 5th T20I, St George's, Jul 3 2021
West Indies 143/9
South Africa 168/4
South Africa won by won by 25 runs
Aiden Markram top scored with 70 runs off 48 balls and he was supported by de Kock who scored 60 runs off 42 balls. It looked as if the Proteas were heading towards a big score, but another batting collapse was brought about by the slower balls from he West indian bowlers.
Evin Lewis brought the fight to the South African bowlers, but there was little to speak about after that. Shamsi was brilliant again with figures of 11/1 in his four overs. The pressure mounted on the West Indies batsmen to increase the run rate, but wickets kept falling and they ended up well short. South Africa ticked a few boxes in the series, but there is a lot of work to be done. South Africa won the series 3-2.
West Indies vs South Africa 4th T20I
West Indies vs South Africa RESULT, 4th T20I, St George's, Jul 1 2021
West Indies 166/7
South Africa 146/9
West Indies won by won by 21 runs
South Africa won the toss and chose to field. Lendl Simmons started well with the bat, but he was trapped lbw by George Linde for 47. The two Protea spinners' bowling is a huge plus going into the T20 World Cup. They took two wickets each and it looked as if the West Indies were going to score a very small total. Ngidi and Rabada however went for a lot of runs as Pollard took on the two quicks. Pollard scored 51 off only 25 balls to help the West Indies post a respectable score.
The South African innings never really got going despite the best efforts of Quinton de Kock who top scored again with 60 runs. He was the only Protea batsman to post a score worth mentioning. The rest of the top and middle order collapsed again. Mark Boucher will have to make a few tough decision with players like Janneman Malan and Andile Phehlukwayo waiting for their chance to prove what they can do.