TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
LANCE Klusener’s uncomplicated approach when he was in the bowler frightening business made good sense, and his assessment of why SA lost the first one-day international to England in Bloemfontein on Wednesday showed nothing has changed.
“When you don’t bowl well and the opposition bat well, then you chase 400,” Klusener said on Thursday.
England’s 399/9 was their highest total in the 52 ODIs they have played against SA and their second highest in their 660 matches in the format overall.
SA were 250/5 when the match was washed out after 33.3 overs of their reply, which gave England victory by 39 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method.
Quinton de Kock’s gutsy 138 not out kept SA in the game, but it is unlikely that he would have had the support needed for the home side to score the 150 runs they required off the 99 balls that went unbowled because of the weather.
Not that Klusener had many questions for SA’s batsmen.
“You at least need to bowl one side of the wicket,” he said. “I’ll give SA the fact that their attack had quite a bit of inexperience at that level. But, at franchise level, I’ve seen them bowl far better than that.”
SA’s new-ball pair, Chris Morris and Marchant de Lange, went into the match with 11 ODI caps between them.
Still, the rest of SA’s bowlers – Morne Morkel, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir and Farhaan Behardien – owned a total of 334 caps. Morkel and Duminy are centurions in that regard.
“They need to be hell of a hard on the fact that they bowled both sides of the wicket,” Klusener said.
“They’re going to need to be better up front with the new ball, and they need to sort out the problem with the fifth bowler – they don’t really have a proper seaming allrounder, although Morris is trying to fulfill that role.”
Duminy and Behardien, who were entrusted with the fifth bowler’s ration, took 1/93 off their 10 overs.
Klusener made the point that “Imran Tahir is so much more effective when he comes on to bowl if they’ve taken a wicket or two; it’s tough otherwise”.
It was tough on Wednesday, what with England sitting pretty on 93/1 in the 13th over when Tahir twirled an arm for the first time. The batsmen were thus under little pressure to attack the tricky leg spinner.
Tahir took the important wickets Eoin Morgan and Moeen Ali and had centurion Jos Buttler dropped on 68. But after his first two overs he had conceded a dozen runs.
That took away any awkwardness England might have felt facing Tahir, and all told he was hit for five fours and four sixes.
SA have a chance to make amends in the second game of the five-match series in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
St George’s Park’s slower pitch and smaller outfield – Bloemfontein boasts the biggest playing area of all of SA’s international grounds – will change the dynamics of the contest.
But not enough to disprove Klusener’s central point: bowl on one side of the wicket, dammit.