TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
PLAYED two, won two. This time last week few would have predicted SA would be sitting quite so pretty in their one-day series against Australia.
But there they are in Durban, one win away from wrapping up the series thanks to Quinton de Kock blazing 178 at Centurion on Friday and a superb allround performance at the Wanderers on Sunday.
A century by Faf du Plessis, half-centuries by Rilee Rossouw and JP Duminy, and an attack in which only Andile Phehlukwayo went for more than a run a ball was the short version of SA’s Joburg jol.
Were SA surprised by the apparent ease of all that?
“Not necessarily,” Wayne Parnell told reporters on Monday. “With the quality we have in our squad, and after a tough period with one-day cricket, it was something we tried to identify – starting the series well and we’ve managed to do that.
“We had a brilliant individual performance in the first game in Quinton de Kock.
“In the second game the batsmen set it up for us nicely, and with the bowling we were much better.
“In the first game we felt we weren’t as good as we could have been and we tried to rectify that.”
Parnell himself is a case in point.
At Centurion he bowled too full and paid the price, taking 1/56 from eight overs and being hit for eight fours and two sixes.
Aaron Finch launched Parnell’s first delivery of the match over long-off for six, and although he had David Warner caught at mid-off two balls later he was yanked out of the attack after two overs that cost 15 runs.
At the Wanderers Parnell’s first over yielded a single off the first ball, four dots – and the wicket of George Bailey, who played and missed at a delivery that seamed a touch to nail his off-stump.
This time after two overs Parnell had figures of 1/3.
The most mercurial player in SA cricket was happy with that, but he knew not to take his success for granted.
“It’s always nice when you have an average game and, in your next game, come out and correct your mistakes,” Parnell said. “But, in cricket, you’re the hero today and tomorrow you’re the villain.”
He has been regarded as the latter since February last year when he was smashed for 85 runs in nine overs in a World Cup match against India in Melbourne.
SA have played 26 ODIs since that match. Parnell has cracked the nod in only eight.
“You can practise for hours in the nets but you can never replicate game time,” he said.
“So, over the last 12 months, being out of the national team, playing domestic cricket week in, week out, putting in good performances, gaining confidence from that … Sport is all about confidence.
“In terms of consistency and swinging the ball and this and that, everyone’s got their own opinion of how I should play my cricket.
“But for me it’s about fitting into the set-up. That’s the main thing I look towards.”
Now, like the rest of a SA team who are learning how to win without the injured AB de Villiers and the fluey Hashim Amla, Parnell is plotting to clinch the series at Kingsmead on Wednesday.