Mon, 18 Jan 2021

  • The Proteas were whitewashed 3-0 by England in their recently completed T20 series; a first.
  • Head coach Mark Boucher, however, believes that there were still positive to take.
  • The Proteas had not played cricket since before the coronavirus lockdown heading into the series.

It is the first time that the Proteas have ever lost a white ball series 3-0 on home soil, but head coach Mark Boucher believes there were still positives to take from his side's hit-out against England.

The fact that allrounders Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius were ruled out of the series after being named in the squad left South Africa with a difficult balancing act when it came to team selection, and without a sixth bowler for all three matches, but even despite that the difference in pedigree between the teams was clear to see for all who watched.

The Proteas have a long way to go.

Quinton de Kock has now won just three of his 11 matches as Proteas T20 captain and with a World Cup in that format set to take place in India next year, time is running out.

It is obviously hugely significant that this was South Africa's first taste of international cricket in over eight months - Lutho Sipamla, for example, had not played a professional game since March before Tuesday - and Boucher acknowledged that rustiness was a factor.

But the nature of Tuesday's loss at Newlands, were England smashed 192/1 to win in just 17.4 overs, would have raised concern among a South African public that is passionate and expectant when it comes to cricket.

It wasn't all doom and gloom, though, and while there are multiple concerns over the state of Proteas cricket, there were also a few positives to come out of the series.

The performance of George Linde, who played in all three matches after earning his debut at Newlands last Friday, stood out.

Capped once in Test cricket, Linde showed why he is such a highly-rated prospect in Cape Town.

His accurate left-arm orthodox offered De Kock a clever option with the new ball that paid dividends, while he was also economical throughout.

Linde is also a more than capable batter with an ability to clear the ropes, and that will always be a factor in this format.

He returned figures of 2/20 (4), 0/27 (4) and 0/26 (7) - neat, tidy and easily the best South African figures of the series.

His 29 (20) in the second T20 in Paarl was an important innings for the Proteas, too, and even his 12 (6) at the end of the South African innings in the first T20 was the injection they needed.

Another positive for the hosts was the form of former skipper Faf du Plessis, who carded two fifties in the series in games one and three. Both came at Newlands - 58 (40) and 52* (37) - as the 36-year-old continued the form he had displayed in this year's IPL.

Du Plessis said after the first Newlands match that he still wanted to play international cricket for as long as he could, and that is good news for South Africa. He clearly still has a lot to offer.

Then, on Tuesday night, Rassie van der Dussen gave a classy reminder of exactly why he should be considered one of the Proteas' biggest assets presently.

Criticised for batting too slowly in Paarl - he made 25* (29) after 37 (28) in game one - Van der Dussen was electric in the series finale. His stunning 74* (32) was the highest score of his international T20 career, but more importantly, it showed that he is exactly the player the Proteas need in their middle order as they plot the way forward.

Boucher pointed to the performances of all three of those players in his post-match press conference on Tuesday.

"It's difficult when we're playing against a good batting line-up like that and our bowlers were tested, especially today," he said.

"But there were one or two guys who stood out in the series.

"It's always difficult to look at positives when you lose 3-0, but I think that those would be the positives going forward."

Attention will now turn swiftly to 50-over cricket where Boucher and the Proteas must prepare for the first of three ODIs against the world champions on Friday, also at Newlands.

Source: News24

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