Selection, tactics prompted SA meltdown

Times Media

TELFORD VICE, Cape Town

NOW what? South Africans will be asking that question for days yet in the wake of their team’s meltdown in their one-day series in Bangladesh.

SA crashed to defeat twice in four days against a side far inferior to them, and a team they had blown away in two T20s and the first ODI – facts that have startled even those who have been inside the dressingroom.

“You’re expected to win in Bangladesh, finish and klaar,” pace great Allan Donald, whose tenure as SA’s bowling coach ended in March, said on Thursday. “You don’t expect to go there and get bullied by them.

“But they outplayed us in all departments and that’s difficult to swallow. It wasn’t easy to watch us get absolutely drilled by kids who have got some confidence.”

The glass looked a little more like half-full for former SA batsman Boeta Dippenaar: “We shouldn’t read too deeply into this.”

But that didn’t stop Dippenaar from training a dispassionate eye on what had gone wrong, starting with, “We didn’t pick a recognised allrounder, which was a huge problem in terms of the balance of the side.”

Ryan McLaren, a controversial omission from SA’s World Cup squad, fitted the bill. But he spent the series on the bench.

AB de Villiers’ absence was another key factor – which SA brought on themselves by releasing him from the squad for the series when he was banned for the first match because of an accumulation of overrate offences.

“He gets bowlers off their lines and lengths,” Dippenaar said. “And when the Bangladeshi bowlers have settled into a groove, they’ve strangled our batsmen.

“With AB not there, we’re not as experienced as we would like to think we are. For instance, Hashim (Amla) was one of the few senior players in the side and that told on his performance.”

Amla, who stood in for De Villiers as captain, scored 51 runs in three innings for an average of 17. His overall ODI average is 54.17.

Dippenaar also questioned Amla’s decision to bat first in both of SA’s ODI losses: “Dew is such a big factor in Bangladesh – you could see the bowlers out there with towels.”

In fairness, the captain who won the toss chose to bat in all five games the teams played. The T20s were won by the team batting first, but the side taking guard second prevailed in all three ODIs.

Despite the series result, SA remain fourth in the rankings and Bangladesh are still seventh – an indication of the quality gap between the sides. But this success follows similarly happy endings for Bangladesh in rubbers against Zimbabwe, Pakistan and India.

Donald acknowledged that “they aren’t pushovers anymore; they know how to win on their own pitches”.

“They must be doing something right,” Dippenaar said. “When they beat Zimbabwe, we could have said, ‘It’s only Zimbabwe’. When they beat Pakistan, we could have said, ‘You don’t know which Pakistan team is going to turn up’.

“But when they beat India we should have taken notice. Well, now we’ve taken notice.”

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