SA should adopt seven-batsmen strategy
Australia has once again become a very good cricket team. That message came across loud and clear over the past four days at SuperSport Park where the Aussies comprehensively beat the Proteas in emphatic fashion.
What is impressive about Australia at the moment is the simplicity of their game plan. They base their success around disciplined batting, quality bowling and exceptional fielding.
This enables their trump card in Mitchell Johnson to unleash his pace and aggression on opposing teams.
My career for Australia was during the fast bowling era. Every test-playing nation at the time had quality fast bowlers. The West Indies fielded no fewer than four pace bowlers in their line-up who had the ability to bowl around the 150-km per hour mark.
Complicating matters further was the fact that there were no bouncer restrictions in those days. I fully understand the problem the South African players face in dealing with the Johnson problem. Just as well there is only one of him with genuine pace in the line-up.
There is nothing like genuine pace to expose areas of weakness in technique, temperament and physical courage.
In my view South Africa have to go back to the seven-batsmen strategy for the rest of the series. Bring Quinton de Kock in at number six and Kyle Abbot as the fourth seamer for the next test in Port Elizabeth where the pitch will be slower and, if prepared accordingly, will seam as well. This will mean that JP Duminy will be the solitary spinner who will bat at seven.
As well as changing the combination, the Proteas need to look for a brave, passionate approach that will put everything on the line during the next test.
The batsmen, in particular, will have to take stock of the situation and work out individual game plans that can deal with the threat Johnson poses.
The turnaround time between matches is only four days, which is not a lot. Hopefully the coaching staff can work out an appropriate way of uplifting the players individually and collectively on every front.
I am also hoping that our champion fast bowler, Dale Steyn, is fully fit for the second test and matches the pace and aggression of Johnson. If he does, that will even matters up considerably.
The Proteas have come back from adversity before on many occasions. They can do so again. That’s what champion teams are made of.