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Bowling attack lets Proteas down


Coach Mark Boucher is not happy.

For the second time in less than a week Mark Boucher bemoaned the performance of South Africa’s bowlers, saying they cost the side the first T20 International against Australia at the Wanderers on Friday night.

Australia hammered South Africa by 107 runs – the largest defeat in terms of runs suffered by the Proteas in this format. Almost everything went wrong for the home team in front of 20 487 spectators after Quinton de Kock had won the toss and asked the Australians to bat. 

The visitors smashed 196/6 taking advantage of some awful bowling from the hosts. “It was a really bad loss,” Boucher remarked.

South Africa’s batsmen folded under the pressure against a far more disciplined Australian attack, and were dismissed for 89, the lowest total by a Proteas side in the game’s shortest format. “We dropped a few catches. It wasn’t a good night at all, from the fielding, to the bowling and that carried into the batting.”

Once again though it was with the ball that the Proteas failed. Last week at Centurion they couldn’t defend 223 against England and on Friday night they gave the Australians, especially Aaron Finch and Steve Smith a free ride in the power play.

“They scored 70 runs in the first six overs and put us on the backfoot straight away and that was from some really poor bowling. I can understand if you bowl one or two cut balls and the wicket is sitting up a bit, but I think we went for 10 boundaries off cut balls, which got the momentum going their way,” said Boucher.

With problems repeating themselves despite numerous training sessions and team meetings, Boucher said it was important to be patient. “It’s not something we can’t change overnight. We tried to work on things like yorkers but came up short. Our lines and lengths were really bad. Ten cut balls in the first six overs is basically gifting batters 40 runs without them making a play. It’s not like they were running down the wicket taking us on, we were giving them boundary options. 

“It was the bowling as a whole. We bowled one yorker, in the first six overs. Our options just weren’t there tonight.”

Australia’s options were on the money – mainly because they targeted the stumps and when they did use the short ball, did so smartly and accurately. Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins claimed three wickets in South Africa’s power play allowing Ashton Agar to make history by becoming just the second Australian player after Brett lee to claim a hat-trick in a T20 International. 

“It’s a great feeling, doing it out there at a pretty intimidating ground against a good opponent, it was pretty special,” said the 26 year old. 

Faf du Plessis, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dale Steyn all fell to the left-arm spinner in the second half of the eighth over as South Africa fell apart, with Steyn falling victim to a fabulous reflex slip catch by Finch.

Both Boucher and Ashton noted how much the pitch spun and aided spinners, something that doesn’t fit with the Wanderers’ reputation. “You hear a lot of talk about that pitch being fiery and spicy, and I really wasn’t sure what we were going to get, but I’m really glad we got what we did,” said Agar, who also became just the second Australia to pick up a five-for at international level, finishing with 5/24.

The second T20 International is at St George’s Park on Sunday. 


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