Australia v South Africa, CB Series January 14, 2009

Over-rates give Botha a headache

Cricinfo staff

Despite the two defeats, Johan Botha is having a better time in Australia than when he visited three years ago © Getty Images

South Africa will aim to lift their sluggish over-rates in the CB Series after struggling to maintain the required pace during both Twenty20 losses. The captain Johan Botha was fined 10% - 5% for the other players - of his match fee after the defeats in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Botha is relatively inexperienced in the role and at times had trouble gaining the attention of his fielders at the Gabba. "They weren't watching me as closely as they should," he said after the six-wicket loss.

He said it was one of the reasons why the game slowed down when South Africa were in the field. "It's part of it, and part of it is bowlers getting to the start of their mark and not being sure what to do - and then you have to change the field," he said. "The match referee came to me before the second game and said one of our bowlers took three minutes from the end of the previous over in Melbourne to bowl their first ball.

"That's something we need to sharpen up on and maybe get a few more overs from JP Duminy. It's not easy, getting wickets and the ball going to the boundary, and the sightscreen changing. Hopefully the match referee will look at that [after the Brisbane game]."

Graeme Smith's hand and elbow injuries left Botha in charge of the one-day squads and his major problems are not being able to overcome Australia and dealing with the over-rates. Botha, who led the team in three ODIs last year, said he was growing in the role and expected the team to compete well in the five-match series, which starts at the MCG on Friday.

"In Melbourne I was quite nervous but [in Brisbane] I was a lot more relaxed," he said. "I really enjoy the challenge. When Graeme Smith is ready again he will take over, so I'm just the stand-in at the moment and I'm enjoying every moment. I'll just give it my best shot."

The last time Botha was in Australia with the national team in 2005-06 he was targeted by the crowds because of his suspect action, which resulted in a significant remodelling so his offspin could be cleared by the ICC. He is having more fun in the country this time.

"So far it's been great," he said. "If I can get a wicket it will get better, but it's been a lot better so far."