Sunday, 31 August 2014

Saffers warm-up games reviewed

After two warm-up games against the England Academy, tomorrow Mignon du Preez will lead her South African team at Chelmsford against England in the first of three T20Is. These games are important to both teams. For England they need to find a formula that works for them in the shortest format of the game. That formula includes the right personnel in the right places, and a game plan that can get them over the line against the best in the world (Australia that is). The next T20 World Cup is less than two years away so time is already running short. As for South Africa they surpassed even their own expectations by reaching the semi-final of the last T20 World Cup earlier this year, and need to show that this was not just a one-off. With a newly-created professional squad of 14 players the expectations are high (only Sunette Loubser on the current tour is not contracted). T20 is undoubtedly the Saffers best format of the game. It suits their hard-hitting style of play and they are an athletic team in the field.

They will have been disappointed to lose the first of the warm-up T20s against the EWA, but the game was actually taken away from them by two contracted England players - Danni Wyatt and Laura Marsh. They shared an opening stand of 108 in under 16 overs as South Africa bowled eight different bowlers in the first 10 overs, whether by design or necessity. Wyatt hit a well-paced 72 off 54 balls with some flowing drives through the covers and has undoubtedly put herself in contention to face South Africa again this week. For South Africa none of their bowlers looked particularly troubling, particularly leg-spinners Dane van Niekerk and Sune Luus and off-spinner Sunette Loubser, who went for a combined total of 33 off just four overs. They will need to bowl better than that.

Having made 139/2 the pressure was always going to be on the South African batsmen. Having made 6 from 13 balls van Niekerk charged Laura Marsh in her first over and was comprehensively stumped; Lizelle Lee was run out without troubling the scorers and Mignon du Preez was rather harshly adjudged lbw to a short ball from Odedra. South Africa were 27/3 after 6 overs. There was no way back for them from there. Trisha Chetty did score 52* off 51 balls and Marizanne Kapp made 26 off 34 balls, but it took them until the 17th over to get the score to 95/4. It may have been useful time at the crease but it gave South Africa no real chance of the win. They particularly struggled against the darty off-spin of Laura Marsh (1/10 in 4 overs with 17 dot balls).

scorecard here

Game Two was a different story as EWA struggled to post a competitive score second time around. This time without Danni Wyatt they could only manage 96/9, with Amy Jones the only bat to show any kind of fluency. She hit five of the nine boundaries recorded (and two of the remaining four were as a result of overthrows). Left-arm seamer Moseline Daniels ripped out the heart of the EWA batting with a spell of 4/5 in four straight overs - three bowled and one lbw. Despite three run outs (two by Chetty behind the stumps) South Africa did not field well - three relatively straightforward catches went down and a simple run out was missed as Lee fumbled the ball at the stumps. England need to put them under pressure in the field from the word go.

Chasing a much easier target allowed South Africa more time to settle despite the early loss of van Niekerk to Freya Davies, who was generating some good pace and bounce. A quick clatter of wickets with the score in the 50s might have unsettled South Africa but skipper du Preez (17*) and a confident Sune Luus (21*) brought South Africa home with 13 balls to spare. Lizelle Lee (22) looked dangerous after a slow start and Luus looks to be a sweet timer of the ball. Marsh again was the best bowler for EWA (2/12 off four overs). England will miss her control next week, but will hope Hazell and Knight can emulate her efforts.

scorecard - here

One player can have a huge influence on a T20 match, and South Africa have those types of players in their ranks - watch out for Lee and Luus with the bat; and Shabnim Ismail, Daniels, Kapp and van Niekerk with the ball. It should be a good series.

Just for reference South Africa player numbers are:-
Sunette Loubser 3
Andrei Steyn 6
Marizanne Kapp 7
Trisha Chetty 8
Marcia Letsoalo 11
Bernadine Bezuidenhout 12
Moseline Daniels 15
Mignon du Preez 22
Chloe Tryon 25
Lizelle Lee 67
Dane van Niekerk 81
Shabnim Ismail 89
Sune Luus 96
Ayabonga Khak 99


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