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Proteas need to ’just be better’ in third and final ODI against Ireland

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Mark Boucher’s Proteas need to find some extra motivation when they take on Ireland in the third and final ODI on Friday.

Proteas coach Mark Boucher
Proteas coach Mark Boucher. Picture: @PoppingCreaseSA/Twitter

A LEADING sportswear manufacturer paid tribute to the late LA Lakers basketball superstar Kobe Bryant with a stirring advertisement celebrating his legacy last year. Narrated by Kendrick Lamar, the tag line was “Just be better”, as it focused on Bryant’s incredible work ethic and overall commitment to improving his game.

There are quite a few hoopsters within the Proteas squad, particularly among the bowling unit, and they would do well to watch the advert ahead of the final ODI against Ireland on Friday.

In fact, coach Mark Boucher should call a movie night and get the entire team to watch it, as this Proteas group desperately needs some form of external motivation for they simply have to do better than they are at the moment.

The overall performance in the shock defeat to Ireland on Tuesday was dismal. Ireland outplayed South Africa in all three major disciplines. High-performing teams like South Africa aspire to be, do not drop four catches in an innings. Neither do they concede 65 runs in the final five overs. It’s simply inexcusable.

But, like most things in life, they will have an opportunity to redeem themselves. It’s too late to win the series now after the first ODI was washed out last Sunday, but they can at least avoid the mortification of a series loss with “a better general all-round performance.”

“Everyone is hurting pretty badly. Obviously you don’t want to drop four catches in an innings, and I am not saying you get days like that, but it can’t happen too often because we are a professional unit. I think the guys will definitely come back and show the hunger we need to show,” said opening batsman Janneman Malan.

“Credit to Ireland. They played an extremely good all-around game. We have a few things to look at and we are definitely going to try and fix it for the next game. We need to identify when to be smarter. Altogether though we just need a better general all-round performance.”

Although Malan was one of the precious few Proteas to emerge from the “Dublin Drubbing” with his reputation intact, the talented young opener was mature enough to realise that his boundary-laden 84 was not enough in relation to the team’s requirements.

“I think chasing 290 we were on a good path. Rassie (van der Dussen) and I were on our way to set it up nicely. Ideally, we would have wanted Rassie or myself batting with someone at over 40. I had to score a big 100, but I failed in that aspect. We backed ourselves to get a 100 in the last 10 overs, but we needed a good platform and in-batter. Losing myself and Rassie within the space of an over wasn’t good,” Malan said.

Captain Temba Bavuma has hinted that changes will be made to the starting XI for the series-decider. While the bowling unit will most likely be shaken and stirred, Malan could also be a casualty with the expected return of Quinton de Kock at the top of the order.

De Kock was rested for the first two matches of the Ireland tour after his exertions in the West Indies, but with the series now on the line South Africa’s “SuperMan” may have to pad up again.