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Cricket news - Be like India or England? - South Africa's lower order conundrum
Faf du Plessis finds himself in an unusual position for a South African captain. With less than five months for the world Cup, there is very little expectation that the Proteas get their hands anywhere near the trophy, when it is hoisted Lord's in July.
This will be a blessing in disguise. The expectation has day as the root of all sorrow for the nation, which is now saddled with the 'Colliers'. Aside deleted bats and miscalculations in the rain, South Africa should have had a world Cup trophy in their Cabinet.
Du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson have 10 ODIs - five-against Pakistan and Sri Lanka on home soil - in front of the opener against the hosts and favourites England at the Oval on 30. May. Only 10 games, kinks to iron out and agree on their preferred combinations.
The bowling looks formidable and the best in the world on their day. In Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada, South Africa, have in their ranks the third most lethal spin bowler and the third most lethal bowler seam in the last four years. Of the teams at the world Cup, only in Afghanistan for a better average or strike rate than South Africa 30.1 runs per wicket every 34.8 balls in this period.
So why the low expectations? The obvious answer is, because the page appears to be incapable of matching India and England when it comes to the deployment of large sums of money. With AB de Villiers, the stand-in rest (we are not a dramatic return counting just yet), the page looks to thin to be running.
But the fault of the eyelash in its entirety, is too simplistic. If South Africa really want to get to the core of the difficulties you need to fix a problem area that has plagued you for some time.
Numbers 7 and 8 in an ODI lineup might fill the most difficult slots to. India is blessed with immense power hitters in the front and so choose your lower center, with bowlers that know how to hold a bat. These guys can get out of trouble, but their primary function is to win games with the ball in hand. In the second ODI against Australia, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav pencil in in 7 and 8.
England have decided to stack their side with explosive guys all the way down the saw Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes plunder in 1566, runs from 7 and 8, striking at 104 with just under 27.5 since the last world Cup. In games that England have won, during this time, these two positions have helped over 2000 runs more than any other side.
South Africa are in the field of tension between these two approaches and not been able to field a consistent winner on the line.
This was not always the case, of course. Jacques Kallis, Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener all your ODI 1996 debut in January against England. For the past eight years, their presence ensured that the debate in the lower half was unimportant.
With these three world-beater as a reference, we can South Africa's post-isolation ODI cricket in five periods:
in front of Kallis, Pollock and Klusener (KPK), when all three played together, when Klusener left the scene, as the Pollock in the left scene, and when Kallis left up to the present day.
TABLE: the Stats of the South African batting to 7 and 8 in five different eras
In front of Kallis, Pollock and Klusener in the side of South Africa's lower order operating was strengthened in the middle of the table mediocrity, averaging and conspicuously inconspicuous prices. If a handheld computer is turned on in the fight, the numbers exploded.
During their time in government contributed to no other page, more runs per wicket in number 7 and 8, and only Pakistan went at a faster pace. It didn't matter if the three are not found, these positions occupy (Kallis, even in these foreign waters twice in 314 trips to the crease). Their presence allowed a simpler equilibrium to the side, and in their place others have been able all-rounder like Nicky Boje, Brian McMillan and " keeper Dave Richardson, an average of 68 in these positions while the handheld computer era.
Klusener's departure saw other sides to catch up in terms of average and strike-rate, although Pollock was well supported by the long lever of Justin Kemp and the steely determination of Mark Boucher. In Pollock's absence, Kallis' presence meant that the tail could be trimmed just a little shorter than the bowling options have been covered. It is, if the king abdicated, that the problems began.
TABLE B: averages and strike rates of top-12-ODI-separated team in five different eras
Since Kallis, South Africa's number 7 and 8 positions-an average of just under 20, better only than Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ireland and Zimbabwe. Your strike-rate of 81.6 is worse than in the KPK-era - 82.7 - an amazing statistic when you consider taken the gigantic bats, and positive attitudes, the modern batsman.
In this time it was to fix a scramble, a Problem that was hard to fathom a generation ago. Farhaan Behardien was the outstanding performer on paper, on average, 44 and falls to about 100, but his nurdling approach and the absence of a threat with the ball meant he could position thing fixed.
Of the six players who have batted at least 10 times at 7 or 8 in this period, only Andile Phehlukwayo was in the squad for the first two ODIs against Pakistan. Chris Morris is still in the running, though, and his hand by smashing 97 ab 77, with 11 fours and 4 sixes for the titans in a four-day game on Tuesday (15. January).
In the post-Kallis era, there are six stand-out-player at 7 or 8:
Also in the fight for a place on the plane to London Dwaine is Pretorius, who has been included in the first team, Pakistan. From seven innings for the Proteas - all on 7 or 8 - he averages a modest 16.83 and strikes at under par 89.38.
Finally, there is also a 20-year-old Wiaan Mulder, who is likely to be in the national colors in the coming months. Still untested at the elite level, he has shown promise in domestic cricket, but has to demonstrate to, to beat a power that falls to just 83 of his two seasons for the lions.
With Parnell, McLaren and maybe Behardien is no longer in the race, and Philander's batting simply not destructive enough, its selection, there are probably three points to win between four candidates; Morris, Phehlukwayo, Pretoruis and Mulder.
The naked figures that this player does not have the best reading. Added to a lack of exceptional batting, du Plessis can trust to leave full, drag his side over the line, or drag them to a reasonable score.
With this in mind, all four of the all-rounder should be selected for the world Cup with three games at once, with the eyelash is 6 to 8. This would then be entrusted to push David Miller to 5 in the order, and him with more responsibility (something he has publicly stated his desire), and it would relieve some of the pressure of the front-line bowlers.
With a trio of capable, if unspectacular, players, South Africa could go back to the " Golden age of limited overs cricket; a time when the athletes will be able to a five-wicket haul sagging, before he fell away from the win, it runs in the same game, from the trees, from the Highveld to the table mountain.
Today, the Proteas, have to make do with what you have. But, if you are smart and brave in your selection made, you can see that the weak prospect of world Cup glory is just a little closer than she first thought.
* Statistical support of Shaun Rheeder (@LocalCricketZA)
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