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Jacques Kallis (L) & AB de Villiers © Gallo Images

World T20 Super 8 - Q&A with Neil

Neil Manthorp hosted a Question & Answer session on Friday and Saturday about South Africa's first Super Eight match in the World T20 against Pakistan.

We've received Neil's answers - enjoy reading through them and keep your eyes peeled for our next one.

The question and answer session has closed.

Questions and answers
Reine Baumann asked:
Hi Neil,

Following the close game which could have gone either way, I was always thinking Pakistan will pull it off as they seem to be excelling at T20''s over the past couple of years? My real question here is could we really afford to get the likes of Albie Morkel to bowl during crucial periods in the game and is Jacques Kallis really cut out for 20 overs cricket?

We could have won this clash had we played smarter. I feel for Steyn and the rest of the boys as the fielding was also much better compared to Saturday''s game vs Sri Lanka. The squad selection is however a huge concern.

Hoping we can beat Australia and India in the upcoming clashes.
Neil answered:
There’s no ‘right’ answer. As Gary Kirsten always says, coaching and team selection is not a ‘precise science.’ Albie Morkel is the most experienced T20 cricketer in history, you’d be crazy to dismiss that as a coach. It’s easy to use hindsight – that IS a precise science! Kallis had a brilliant IPL for the Knight Riders and was man of the match in the final. Bowling when the slog is on in the final few overs is as much about guesswork as it is about getting the ball in the right area. If you bowl a full length, the inside and outside edges are brought into play. If you bowl short at the body, especially at tailenders, the theory is that they will find it harder to get the ball to the boundary. Not many No 9 batsmen play the hook and pull as well as Umar Gul. The squad can be reviewed after the tournament. Right now these are the men who need to be trusted. In my view.
tony gunton asked:
Why did AB De Villiers revert to seam bowling from the limited abilities of albie Morkel when he still had overs left to him from our spinners Botha and Duminy ? This has to be one of the poorest pieces of strategy I have ever witnessed - which begs the question , why on earth did we noit appoint Johan Botha to captain of our one day and T20 set-ups when the opportunity arose ? It is with despair that one watches the naive approach that we follow . I am amazed that the coaching straff looked on in bewilderment whilst this disaster unravelled before their eyes .
Neil answered:
The problem with having so many bowling options is that, sometimes, the captain feels obliged to use them all! It is almost part of South Africa’s cricketing heritage to turn to fast bowling when the heat is on. Graeme Smith did it for years and years before finally having the courage to rely on spin. De Villiers's gut feel in the closing overs against Pakistan was to return to the fast bowlers. Botha’s figures (2-1-10-1) look embarrassingly good now but De Villiers might easily have been right if he felt that another over might have been a risk. What if it had gone for 20, as Albie’s over did? But you are right – the common consensus was that Botha should have bowled in the closing overs. And that was the consensus of opinion as it was happening, not in hindsight.

The coach and his staff cannot overrule the captain from the dugout. Apart from undermining the captain, there simply isn’t time in T20!
Earl asked:
Hi manners.hope all is well.don''t u think for the next game they should let kallis and amla open .they can bring faf in and drop levi.they can use him as a spin bowler and bat him at 4.it will strengthen our team and attack?wats ur thoughts?
Neil answered:
I’m a big fan of Faf du Plessis but he hasn’t really produced the goods for a while now, including the ODIs and T20s in England. I’m certainly wondering whether Richard Levi has now been given enough time to prove himself. International cricket is a cruel and uncompromising place for batsmen who are particularly strong in certain areas and not so good in others. Video analysis sorts them out extremely quickly and they have to reinvent themselves. Levi's confidence can’t be too high at the moment. I don’t think anybody would complain if Kallis and Amla opened against Australia. Or if Du Plessis was recalled and given another chance.
Christopher Isang asked:
Which part of the game do we need to improve on?in order to avaoid such tight losses.
Neil answered:
We need to work on avoiding tight finishes! Seriously, I think there has been a lot of time spent on making sure players stay calm and remember that 120 balls per innings is still a lot of cricket. But perhaps the counter-effect of that is that there is slightly less urgency than is desirable. I firmly believe that dot balls are a batsman’s curse and every effort should be made to eliminate them. Bob Woolmer always said that the best one-day batsmen play themselves in with singles, not dot-balls. Remember Jonty Rhodes? More of that ‘push-and-run’ urgency is needed. Remember, the main reason the Pakistan game was lost was not the bowling – it was because the batsmen were 20 runs short of a good total.
Anwar in Qatar asked:
Well what can we say besides express our disappointment of losing a winning game. I must say that today the pace attack undid all the hard work done by the spinners, our guys just never learn do they? Steyn, Morkel & Kallis very guilty of bowling too short on a wicket that needed to be bowled full. It was amazing that we never attacked the stumps & the trio mentioned above were the guilty parties including Albie Morkel. What will Allan Donald do about this now & how do they plan for India & Aussies? Also Levi is just not the impact player we all thought he would be, he is by no means a Sehwag, Watson, Gayle, etc & what are your thoughts about the problematic opening pair besides Amla?
Neil answered:
Allan Donald might be able to help if the bowlers are deciding to bowl a certain delivery and then getting it wrong. But if it’s their thinking and decision-making which is the problem, then there’s nothing he can do – certainly during the game, anyway. If they decided to bowl short at the batsman’s body instead of full, then it backfired. Knee-high full tosses, however, are a real problem. That’s not a matter of ‘fractions’ or the ‘fine line between success and failure’ as we talk about in the commentary box, that’s just poor. That’s like a professional soccer player smashing a penalty kick two metres over the cross bar.

I haven’t answered many questions from Qatar before! What’s your story?
Petrus asked:
Hi there.

Why does AB not come in earlier in the batting lineup?

AB is my number 1 player, but I don''t think his captaincy was spot on today. Any one can see that spin was doing a better job.

He likes his titans buddies to much.
Neil answered:
AB believes he is more effective in the closing overs where he can do the most damage. Like you (obviously), I believe his logic is flawed. Most teams have reached the conclusion that their best batsmen need to bat in the top four. AB is worried that he might get out if he comes in too soon, but I believe he’s good enough to come in at three or four and still be there for the closing overs. The difference is that he’ll already have 30 or 40 runs to his name by the time he starts doing maximum damage.

As far as favouring his ‘buddies’ is concerned, you make it sound extremely harsh. But there may be something subconscious there. But wouldn’t you turn to those you know and trust in moments of pressure? I do. It’s human nature.
damian asked:
Hello Neil

I am completed gutted with that loss. Firstly the captain is he our best man to lead the team? In the past few matched he has admitted that he made mistakes, that is brave of him but for how long will these mistakes continue!! Our top order needs to be changed as well maybe pushing Levi out and bringing Kallis to open with Duminy and AB to follow. What are you thoughts on that. Finally shoud Lopsy not be considered as he much economical than Morne who is very wayward at times?

Thank you
Neil answered:
AB is the right man to captain the side. He is the ODI captain and it makes complete sense to have him captaining the T20 team, too. Perhaps he could make more use of the senior players and other leaders around him, but having said that, T20 cricket happens very quickly and there isn’t much time to exchange a few words never mind have a discussion or a conference of senior players. Johan Botha obviously has a good record as captain – which is why he’s leaving South Africa after this tournament to captain South Australia for three years. AB has the best view on the field from behind the stumps but he might be serving himself and the team well by handing over the leadership for a few overs to someone else. Shaun Pollock used to do that if he was in the middle of a long or very important bowling spell. Maybe AB would benefit from a few calm(er) overs when he can simply observe and try to see the wood for the trees.
John Taylor asked:
Do you feel De Villiers is hiding from his batting responsibilities and placing more pressure on the out of form or less experienced batsmen by promoting them up the order when the pressure is on? (he seems more than willing to come in at 3 or 4 when things are going well)

Do you think this is a sign of the pressure he is under as Batsman, keeper and Captain and if so should he not be asked to choose between Captaincy and Keeping. Giving the team an opportunity to bring in a specialist keeper to gain experience before the World Cup (2015).
Neil answered:
AB de Villiers has never, ever hid from anything in his life – certainly not when it comes to cricket! Goodness me, I’m surprised anyone might think that. He is doing what he thinks is best for the team by trying to be there at the end of the innings, whether batting first or chasing. As mentioned above, my view is that his thinking is flawed. He is good enough to come in early AND still be there at the death. As for captaincy and ‘keeping, everybody knew it would be a challenge and there are enough good men around him to monitor the situation. My view is that he should carry on for now – provided he is happy to do so and enjoying the challenge – and wait for a different gloveman to force his way into the team. If you have a preconceived idea of what components you want in a team and then go out to find them, you end up compromising. Better to start with all the best material you have and then build the best team you can with what is available.
Collen Sithitha asked:
Hi Neil,

Thanks for your time.

It seems as our batting team is only relying on Kallis, Hashim, AB and JP which is very bad in a big tournament like this. Behardien does not convice me as a strong finisher after his 18 (21). This is T20 world cup game and there is no room for learning but players should deliver. I believe Faf should replace Behardien to strenghen our batting line up.I know we may come back against Aussies and India but that will be a mountain to climb. our chances to progress to semis are very slim now.
Neil answered:
What other route is there into the national team other than through performances in domestic cricket? Behardien has been phenomenal in domestic T20 cricket for the Titans and deserved his place in the squad. With Faf having failed to deliver in recent weeks, he then deserved his promotion into the XI. I agree he hasn’t quite looked the part yet, but not many players do in their first few internationals.
david rush asked:
Hi Neil
What do you think of Albie opening the batting in T20? He never really seems to be given enough time batting down the order as a supposed finisher (something he hasn''t done for ages anyway) seems a waste of an explosive talent. This might seem far-fatched but why not go Levi, Morkel, Amla, de Villiers, Kallis, Duminy, plus the rest?
Neil answered:
Not everyone has the capability of hitting the ball out of the ground in the closing overs – Albie does, which is why he is used at the end of the innings. Personally I am convinced he is good enough as a batsman to play anywhere, so I don’t think your idea is so far-fetched. But then would you want Kallis batting at number five? How about Morkel and Kallis to open with Levi taking a breather?
Brian asked:
Hi Neil how wise is SA relying on Kallis as the man who get us quick runs in this format of cricket?My opinion is that Devilliers should bat high up say no.3.What is your take on this?
Neil answered:
I have a feeling Kallis has a very big game coming up. (At least, I hope so!) I have answered your De Villiers question several times in previous questions. Yes – I agree with you.
Talha asked:
Once again the proteas throw the game away when the pressure gets too much - I''m a huge fan of this team and really believe that we''ve got potential to acquire legend status. I believe that our bowling is exceptional, its with our batting, I don''t feel that levi is good enough. If we consider one miraculour innings against new zealand and then against Zim, what else has he done? Its a sad reality that our proteas feel compelled to thrash the daylights out of teams at the group stages and then take that momentum into the next round and when slightly under pressure just collapse - kindly comment Thanx
Neil answered:
Your frustration is shared and understood. There is a bit of pattern, isn’t there? However, at least it wasn’t a knock-out game! It’s a very tall order, but wins against Australia and India will put everything right and earn a semifinal spot. There are two ways to look at how the team fared under pressure against Pakistan. They were defending an inadequate total – 20 runs below par at least – but they bowled brilliantly to reduce Pakistan to 76-7 and play themselves into a winning position. So there was some good news in between the bad…
Johan Van Zyl asked:
Hi Neil!

What do we have to do to stay in the tournament now? Don''t you think with our batting line up and our strong bowling attack that we should try and chase totals wherever we can?
Neil answered:
Two victories out of three will guarantee a semifinal place. It is mathematically possible to qualify with one victory but that means three teams in the group will have to finish with a 1-2 record and the fourth team with a 3-0 record. Then run rate could come into it. But basically, the Proteas need to beat Australia on Sunday and India on Tuesday.
Barry asked:
Time after time we see Duminy purposely trying to hit singles when the Proteas lose early wickets. Between the 6th and the 12th over both he and Behardien adopted this policy despite the shockingly poor run rate and despit the big hitters like Albie and AB still to come. Why does Duminy (and also Kallis) do this time and again in crucial 20/20 matches? Isn''t it better to "hit out or get out" in a a 20/20 match when your team''s run rate is so low?
Neil answered:
I don’t think hitting singles is a problem – it’s the dot balls in the middle overs that are the problem! We can pass comment and judgement on that – it’s our right. It drives the players nuts, but fortunately we have freedom of speech! But we have to accept that we are not the people out there, batting under a 35 degree sun and in 95% humidity. We must try to remember how easy it is making decisions and judgements sitting in front of a television and, in my case, air-conditioning! Everything seems so much more rational when our heart-rates are normal! A couple of days ago I woke up in Colombo and made a list of all the things I had to do, and I prioritised them from 1-9. Then I went for an hour-long run and came back with my head spinning. I looked at my list, changed all of the top three, scratched two things off altogether and then headed straight for a cold shower. I lost two kilograms during a 60-minute run. It makes it less easy to criticise the players.
James asked:
How are the four teams that won their respective groups in the same super-8 group? And the four runners-up in the same group?
Neil answered:
It’s all about pre-seeding. The eight ‘major’ teams were seeded based on their world ranking. It makes it so much easier for the organisers to plan logistics etc and for supporters to buy tickets and be guaranteed to see their team play. The only way it could have gone wrong was if Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Ireland or Afghanistan had qualified in place of one of the major teams. So the fact that all the ‘winners’ were in one group and all the ‘losers’ in the other was pure coincidence. Nothing more than that.
Loyiso asked:
Hi Mr Manthorp. With exeption of levi morkel and de villiers do u think south africa has enough power hitters people who can clear the boundry at any given time? People can say what they want but T20 cricket is about flair and excitment.
Neil answered:
Actually, people always tend to forget how proficient JP Duminy is at hitting sixes. He also disproves your assertion that you need to be a ‘power hitter’ to clear the boundary. Just like the longest drivers in golf, it’s rarely the muscle men who are top of the list. It’s more often about timing and control. So yes, I believe there are enough boundary hitters in the team. Provided they are in form. Levi’s lack of form is a real problem at the moment.

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