TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
ATTITUDE. It wins games between teams more or less equally equipped with talent and skill, and if SA need to re-focus mentally for Sunday’s second T20 against New Zealand in Centurion they should remember Aaron Phangiso’s face after 13.3 overs of the first match at Kingsmead on Friday.
Phangiso bowled, George Worker pulled, and out on the fine leg fence Morne Morkel did a passable impression of a man trying to catch a mayonnaise slathered chicken burger. Was it a bird? Was it a ball? Whatever, it shot through Morkel’s not quite cupped hands and over the rope. Six.
Morkel moped. Phangiso fumed flamboyantly; effing and blinding and head-butting the very air.
By then, Phangiso had removed the cleared-for-take-off Kane Williamson with perfect flight, a touch of turn, and the still snappy stumping hands of Morne van Wyk. He had also been pulled for six by Worker, and properly.
But, a half-dozen of his deliveries later, and after Worker had swept him for four, Phangiso speared one blunt and angry at the left-hander – who swept again, missed, and was trapped in front.
Phangiso and Morkel hugged and smiled and all was well again. Pass the mayonnaise.
Phangiso’s lesson in attitude began when AB de Villiers asked him to tame a New Zealand innings that had caught fire. Kyle Abbott, Kagiso Rabada, Morkel and David Wiese had fanned rather than doused the flames, and after seven overs the visitors were 63/0.
“I enjoyed the pressure and I enjoyed the confidence of the captain giving me the ball,” Phangiso said.
“I come from the townships. There you’ve got to defend yourself – you are always under pressure.”
In that case, SA should move the two-day team-building session before their test series in India in November from its current location of beachy Goa to some of Mumbai’s edgier areas. Or Phangiso’s hometown: Garankuwa.
But first they should sort out Faf du Plessis, who missed Friday’s game with a knee injury sustained during fitness drills this week. “I think he’ll be ready,” stand-in skipper De Villiers said of Du Plessis’ chances of playing on Sunday.
Other entries on SA’s to-do list, De Villiers said, were making a better start with the ball – “we’re not as good as we want to be (in the first six or power play overs)” – and not bowling too full – “that’s not a bad thing, but you also want the aggression”.
New Zealand were 102/1 in the 13th over before SA took seven wickets for 41 runs to limit the total to 151/8. Through some Kiwi klutziness and plenty of their own grit, SA pulled it back.
“The last 15 overs was near perfect; yorkers, good length balls and bouncers – I saw all the variations,” De Villiers said. In the field he was justifiably impressed with SA’s “good energy, creating chances”.
From there all SA needed was steady batting to get home by six wickets with 13 balls to spare.
“When you get a score like 150 you have to bowl well, and we didn’t,” Williamson said.
But a team as canny and resourceful as New Zealand are unlikely to fall victim to similar mistakes in consecutive games.
Neither, you would hope, should a team who on the evidence seen at Kingsmead on Friday have rediscovered the zip that deserted them in Bangladesh forget who they are in the space of two days.
Attitude, jou lekker ding.