Wind of change blows, but not in PE

Sunday Times


TELFORD VICE, Cape Town

WHICH is more believable – that South Africa would reel off three wins without reply in their one-day series against Australia or that there was no wind in Port Elizabeth on Saturday?   

Incredibly both are true. Dinkum.

At this rate of ridiculousness South Africa will deploy four spinners in the fourth match of the rubber at St George’s Park on Sunday.

After 10 straight days of gale force howling in the country’s windiest city, Saturday was as still as a midnight cemetery.

No wind. In PE. Imagine.

That’s up there with South Africa, without AB de Villiers, Morne Morkel and, mostly, without Hashim Amla, going 3-0 up against the No. 1 ranked Aussies. No need to imagine: look in the book.

“Hashim and AB’s performances have been unbelievable over the last 10 years, and to chase down those scores without them is very pleasing,” South African coach Russell Domingo said.

“When they are no longer there hopefully some of the younger guys can emulate what they’ve done. It’s always important to have the next tier of player playing.”

And especially as the series has been decided. If you must go through the motions why not make things interesting?

So get in there leg spinner Imran Tahir, left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, slow left-armer Aaron Phangiso and off-spinner JP Duminy …

“It’s always an option to play two spinners,” Russell Domingo said, curbing our enthusiasm.

“St George’s Park is known to be slower than Highveld wickets, and maybe the Durban and Cape Town wickets. The spinners definitely come into it more than at other venues.”

Maybe we won’t see four slow poisoners. But we should see more than one seam bowling allrounder.

“An allrounder is massively important to have and possibly it’s something we haven’t had for the past two or three years,” Domingo said.

“There are probably four in the mix at the moment – Wayne (Parnell), Chris Morris, Andile (Phehlukwayo) and Dwaine Pretorius.

“They’re all there and there about and it’s very pleasing to have that sort of depth in our batting line-up.”

Thing is, Parnell and Morris have been sidelined by injury. Which should clear the way for both Phehlukwayo and Pretorius to play.

South Africa will make changes, what with David Miller out for, Domingo said, “the next couple of weeks” because of the groin injury he sustained while scoring the century that clinched the rubber at Kingsmead on Wednesday.

“We need to consider Dale (Steyn) and ‘KG’ (Kagiso Rabada),” Domingo said. “They’ve played all three games and ‘KG’ in particular has played a lot of cricket over the past year.”

Rabada has played 48 of South Africa’s 51 games across all formats since he made his debut in July last year. 

“It might be an opportunity to give him some sort of break because there’s still a lot of cricket coming in the next couple of months,” Domingo said.

Domingo would have been justified in also talking about the past couple of months, in which his suitability for his job has been openly and sometimes unfairly questioned.

Instead he was humble: “We’ve come off not a good tour to the West Indies (in June, when South Africa won only two of their six games in a triangular series) and we needed to show we can still play this format of the game.”

The winds of change have since blown for Domingo and his team, and they are forecast to come screaming in from the west on Sunday.

“The wind definitely plays a part at St George’s Park,” Domingo, a native of these parts, said.

“You’ve got to play the pitch, you’ve got to play the opposition, but you’ve also got to play the wind.”   

And, he didn’t say, the doubters and haters everywhere.

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