One spinner took a hat-trick in the Test series and another was named the player of the series in the T20 Internationals.

As far as South African cricket is concerned, it’s like a whole new world and the Proteas seem very happy to embrace it.

Keshav Maharaj is still – rightly – revelling in becoming just the second South African cricketer to take a Test hat-trick, and Tabraiz Shamsi showed there was a lot more on offer from the slow bowlers in the T20s.

Shamsi dominated the West Indies in South Africa’s surprising 3-2 series triumph that was secured on Saturday night. The left arm wrist spinner bowled his full allotment of four overs in each match, finished with combined figures of 7/80 and the West Indies failed to score a run off more than half the deliveries he bowled.

“Shamsi was amazing, he was fantastic in the middle (period),” said Proteas captain Temba Bavuma.

It is a most un-South African trait to rely so heavily on spin bowling, but having started the series with just Shamsi and George Linde in the starting team, by the time of the last match, South Africa had called up Bjorn Fortuin too, while Bavuma still had Aiden Markram up his sleeve as well.

“In these conditions, you want an over of slow bowling in the powerplay. It only paid off for us one or twice in the series. I thought that trying to take the pace off and trying to mix it up with the quickies (was a good option). Just after the power play that’s where I felt the spinners came into the game,” the South African captain added.

“We are fortunate that we have got spinners who can bowl with the new ball and then who can hold the game in the middle.”

Besides the spinners the other aspect of South Africa’s play that caught the eye throughout the Caribbean tour was the fielding.

That department had been poor for the last couple of years, and cost South Africa matches particularly in Pakistan earlier this year. In the Tests, the catching was superb particularly in the slips and in the T20s there was some excellent ground fielding.

The final match saw Markram and Bavuma make crucial boundary saves in the power play, which put the West Indies under pressure. “Before the series, conversations were had, fielding was one part of the game where we’d let ourselves down,” said Bavuma.

“We definitely dropped the standards in terms of what the Proteas are known for. We knew, we had to lift our intensity, our ability and that started at practice. All those conversations and hard work paid off.”

Nevertheless, Bavuma still wasn’t entirely pleased. He dropped one catch early in the series and on Saturday, three were grassed.

“I think in the T20, we still weren’t at our best, there were easy opportunities that we let go and dropped catches, and you don’t want those biting you in the bum.”

Bavuma’s first series as the Proteas’ T20 skipper, gave him and the side plenty of confidence, much-needed after a couple of years in which results were poor. “I’m taking it as a journey,” he said.

“I’m fortunate to have this responsibility quite early in my international T20 career. As much as I am trying to grow as a player, I’ve got the responsibility to lead and inspire the guys. I’m trying to learn every day, keep an open mind and ask as many questions as I can. Obviously the (series) win is a positive, a step in the right direction, and I guess I’ll be challenging myself and the group to make sure we get better and better everyday.”

Editor@tech-talk.co.za

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