South Africa started their tour of Australia with a one day tour game against the Prime Ministers XI in Canberra.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat first, things did not start well for the visitors, as they found themselves 3-2 after only 4 deliveries, with both Quinton de Kock and Reeza Hendricks being dismissed without troubling the scorers.
It is a story we are all too familiar with when it comes to South Africa’s batting lately, a flurry of early wickets sets the top order crashing and the middle order have to rebuild.
The only trouble with that is the middle order of Faf (13), Behardien (0) and Pretorius, batting in the critical 7th spot, making only 3, also all failing.
In typical fashion, it was left to the lower order to score the bulk of the runs. Steyn (20), Rabada (28) and Ngidi (10) added a combined 58 runs down the order. South Africa’s top 3 on the other hand, scored a total of 47 runs, and that was all Markram.
Reeza Hendricks either has to start scoring runs very quickly, or make way for someone else. In his 6 ODIs thus far, he started with a bang of scoring a century on debut against Sri Lanka, and in his last ODI played against Zimbabwe earlier this month, he scored a half century. The problem comes when you look at his scores in between: 2, 0, 5 & 1 – that is simply not good enough.
I was not pleased with the selection of Farhaan Behardien, and I feel it was justified. He came out to bat with South Africa struggling on 85-4 in the 17th over. This was his time to shine, his time to show he can be the middle order, closer that the selectors see him as.
David Miller started to show signs that he was finally taking his role in the side seriously, scoring 45 valuable runs. With the side still struggling of not batting out their 50 overs and with very little batting to come after him, Miller should have realised that he was the player that needed to say out there. He was the one that needed to use all of his wealth of experience and show the selectors that their faith in him is warranted, that he is the player they are looking for.
What does he go and do? Comes down the wicket and tries to loft the bowler back with an expansive stroke. Poor cricket from an experienced player.
South Africa scored a very low and disappointing total of 173 all out in 42 overs.
It was once again the bowlers who were asked to bowl the side to victory. Steyn struck early with the wicket of 19-year old Max Bryant for 6 in the 3rd over, while Ngidi removed the other opener, 18-year old, Jack Edwards for 10 on the stroke of the lunch break, to leave the PMXI on 45-2.
It was not enough, the PMXI won comfortably in the end, even after a slight wobble in the middle, they won by 4 wickets with 13 overs to spare, with captain George Bailey finishing the match on 51 not out.
It was a young PMXI side that played, and they can be encouraged that even after facing the likes of Dale Steyn and KG Rabada, they still went at over 6/over in their first spells, and young Joshua Philippe, at only 21 years old scored a half-century against this world-class bowling attack.
I fail to see the value of having Dwaine Pretorius in the side. The experiment of him batting at 7 didn’t work, and it took until the PMXI’s 22nd over for him to come on to have a bowl. His last ODI for the Proteas was October 2017, over a year ago. What exactly what the reason he played? What role do the selectors want him to play? All these questions remain unanswered.
The same questions still remain for the Proteas, and yes, they have been hampered by the injuries of Hashim Amla and JP Duminy, but their batting is still a problem. Despite clear frailties being shown against India, Australia, Sri Lanka and most recently, and worryingly, Zimbabwe, the coaching staff and players have done nothing to improve the performances. It seems like they just think things will magically fix themselves.
Sadly, that is not how life works, the effort you put in to your job determines the success you get out from it. South Africa sadly, are seemingly putting no effort into fixing their batting problems.
With their opening World Cup game around the corner, this is a problem that won’t just fix itself.
The first ODI between Australia and South Africa begins on Sunday 4th November at 05:20 SA time.