SRI LANKA TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA 2019
Cricbuzz Staff •
Barring Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock, none of the batsmen have made an impact in the ODI series against Sri Lanka so far © Getty
Despite a thoroughly dominant show by South Africa in the third ODI against Sri Lanka in Durban on Sunday (March 10), where they beat the visitors by 71 runs to clinch the series and take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series, captain Faf Du Plessis has come out with some strong and critical words about his batsmen and stressed the need about ‘raising their standards’.
“We spoke a little about the batting in the previous game, and wanting to be better and raising the standards. Just purely on personal performance, 20s and 30s are not going to win us the World Cup.” Du Plessis said.
“If you’re doing okay, that’s not enough. We want those standards to be higher and better, because that’s what is going to be the difference. We can’t have a mediocre batting line-up and one or two guys performing at the World Cup. We need two or three guys every single game to put their hand up.” admitted the South African skipper.
The 34-year old expressed the desire to bring out the positive brand of cricket and also expressed the need to quell their conservative approach in order to be successful, especially with World Cup around the corner. “You need to be prepared to take the risks, you’re brave enough to take the risks, and you’re not scared of failing. Just playing a conservative style of cricket, I don’t believe it’s going to win you the World Cup.”
Apart from de Kock and Du Plessis, the rest of the batsmen haven’t quite lived upto their reputations and the South African captain emphasised on the importance of collective batting performances. Ever since the retirement of AB de Villiers in May last year, South Africa have tried and tested many players in the middle-order but none of them have managed to fill in the shoes left by the legend. “We don’t want to rely on one player. Obviously, AB is a fantastic batter, but sometimes you can in the back of your mind just rely on guys like that, and that’s not the way that I want us to play as a team.
“Everyone needs to contribute, every single game. You’re not guaranteed a performance, but you’re guaranteed of putting in the style of play, of putting in the hard work and raising your intensity, and trying to make sure that you can be a better player than you’ve been before. And I think slowly but surely you can see that from the players.” added Du Plessis.
Quinton de Kock’s form has been a shot in the arm for the Proteas off late and the Southpaw has helped South Africa to flying starts in recent times. Du Plessis was lavish in praise for the ‘keeper-batsman. “It puts the bowlers under real pressure. When he’s on, you as a batting unit can’t take a team down. He hits good balls for four. Most batters will allow for the bowler to make a mistake and then take it to the boundary, but what he does when he’s in that mode is he hits you off your good balls and then you bowl bad balls to him.”
“Because some bowlers will get a bit of white knuckles against him, because they fear what he does to them. So when he does do that, he almost transforms the bowling attack for the rest of the batting line up. It’s a real dangerous power that he has, and we’re lucky to have him in our side.” acknowledged du Plesiss.
Lower-order batsmen have lacked consistency for South Africa this summer but the likes of David Miller, Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo made vital contributions in the third ODI which enabled them to post a massive total of 331/5. Phehlukwayo struck a 15-ball 38 and the South African skipper was impressed with the all-rounder’s knock. “That was power hitting, but there was a lot of smart cricket through that as well. Once again that’s showing that Andi’s game has evolved, he’s grown into a better cricketer.”
South Africa are left with two ODIs before the World Cup and du Plessis felt that the series has given them an opportunity to fix their team balance ahead of the mega tournament in England. “The guys are going towards the right direction. We’re making less mistakes. We’re getting better as a team. This series was about answering the questions that we had from a balance point of view, and I’m 99.9% sure we’re there where we need to be. The next two games will give the 0.1% of the things that are still in pencil.”