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The poor man’s Aussies

The Kiwis crack me up when it comes to cricket. I get on really well with some of their players and coaching team and like them a lot but some of their antics on the cricket field make me laugh.

If it was the All Blacks with all that strength and fire power you would have to take it seriously, but on the cricket field with their pop-gun attack, really, do me a favour. They are the poor man's Aussies!

They may as well give up on all their intimidation efforts and just continue to play the game hard and do their best like they can. Especially after the third T20 game where they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. If ever a team, as we would say in the trade, took the gas it was the Black Caps. If ever there was a choke this was it. Mind you I never heard that word mentioned post-match after the Kiwis surrendered a clear advantage that could have, and indeed should have, won them the series.

The Proteas’ fightback and spirit were good. They never gave up and their passion and intensity was evident right to the end. That’s where the personality of AB de Villiers will be good for the team. They didn't play particularly well as a unit, but in the end they still came out on top when it mattered.

Former ODI and T20 skipper Johan Botha was brilliant in this game. The last over of his spell set up the win for South Africa. Marchant de Lange bowled an excellent last over as well. Once the euphoria settles down in the South African camp after the unlikely series win they will reflect on areas of their game that need to improve considerably.

New Zealand is an average team and they should under no circumstances run the Proteas close. Yes, they may win the odd game against South Africa at home but over a series the margin of victory for South Africa should be significant.

That is exactly what the Proteas should strive for during the upcoming ODI series. The longer the game, the more difficult it should be for New Zealand to compete. One hopes that the Proteas will settle on a combination during the three ODI matches that is designed to win the series comfortably.

In other words, it is time for the team management to show their hand as far as what they believe the best one-day combination for South Africa is at the moment. Against Sri Lanka the Proteas experimented so much that the series ended in a disorganised fashion. The last two matches resulted in two losses and what should have been a five-nil series victory ended in a rather untidy three-two win. Unfortunately during this experimental period not a great deal was revealed as to exactly what the best combination is for South Africa in the one-day format.

During the three one-day internationals against the Black Caps it will be better if the coaching staff and selectors look for consistency in selection, define team roles so that the players are more settled. This way the different individual players can grow in the roles defined for them. This sort of approach will reveal a lot more than the continual switching of positions and strategy that we are seeing at the moment.

One of the things that De Villiers needs to cultivate is a ruthless approach. He has made the statement a few times now that the team is more concerned about how it plays rather than the end result. This approach is based on the fact that the coaching staff and team management are building towards victories in ICC trophy campaigns.

By all means the Proteas can look to build, but the priority first and foremost should still be to win. Teaching a team how to win consistently is even more important than continuous experimentation in an attempt to find a combination that would eventually win. The best way to develop a winning team is to successfully create a ruthless winning culture. Once this happens the rest normally falls into place.

The Proteas have the T20 series in the bag so they can build towards a convincing ODI and test series victory. No need to do anything regarding experimentation that will weaken the team and give the Kiwis a sniff of victory. The defeat in the T20 series would have hurt New Zealand and created plenty of self-doubt. That is something that the Proteas need to exploit relentlessly over the next four weeks.

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