Relishing new opportunities up the order
It’s obviously disappointing to have lost the final two games of the one-day series against Sri Lanka. However, I still think it was a great effort by the squad to win a series against what is a very decent one-day side with some great players.
Absolutely no excuses, but I definitely think the Sri Lankans got the better conditions to bat in, in both Kimberley and Johannesburg, and that contributed greatly to them successfully chasing 300-plus in both games. Again, no excuses, but that’s how I viewed the conditions.
In Kimberley, the wicket got a bit slow towards the end of our innings and in the evenings there it skids on a bit, making it better for scoring. At the Wanderers, the wicket started off slow, which is usually the case when there’s some cloud cover – also a reason why they got some swing up front, which made batting a bit tricky. Having said all of that, we should have defended 300 on both occasions.
The results of the last two games, though, shouldn’t be viewed in isolation – we gave some opportunities to bowlers and we missed the likes of Dale Steyn, who was rested. His pace always makes a big difference. Also on reflection, we didn’t know much about Thisara Perera, who played an unbelievable knock in Kimberley – 69* from 44 balls – so that was another lesson learnt about doing our homework. We did though achieve our goal of winning the series, which was the main objective.
From a personal point of view it was great to be pushed up to number three in Johannesburg. That had something to do with the fact that coach Gary Kirsten likes left- and right-handed combinations, so when Alviro Petersen got out I went in to partner Graeme Smith. But it could have been AB de Villiers as well.
As I think I mentioned in my previous blog, Gary wants to keep the positions of four, five and six flexible, and, ordinarily, that number three position would have been filled by Jacques Kallis, who was also being rested. So, what the opposition gets is a surprise -- there are no plans in place and they don’t know who exactly is going to come in next when a wicket falls. It all depends on the situation of the game at the time.
What’s probably most important at the moment is when AB goes in. He’s in great form and is one of the best one-day batters in the world. He’s also very experienced in how to win games, so you may even see him go in at number six on occasions, as happened in Bloemfontein, where he was able to steer the ship home with 39* from 36 balls, which was ultimately the difference between victory and defeat on the Duckworth-Lewis method. That approach is great for me, as it means that I will get opportunities up the order, which is where I prefer batting. Three is new for me, but there isn’t much difference between three and four.
It was disappointing to get out in Johannesburg, having made 24 from 39 balls and having got myself in. But, it was actually really tough going at the beginning. The wicket was two-paced and slow, and there was also some variable bounce. But even though it was tough to score, I did all the hard work and then got out, which didn’t please me. My thinking at the time was that we needed to up the run rate and Graeme and I were doing that. We thought that we needed a total of 270-plus, so I thought I’d have a go at the off-spinner, Sachithra Senanayake. In the previous game he didn’t spin many, so I fancied my chances. However, I just didn’t execute the shot as I wanted and got caught in the deep.
The Titans have a four-day game this week, but I’m giving the body a rest. I’ll join up with my provincial teammates next week for their next four-day game and then the national squad assembles for the New Zealand tour.
Until next week.