Botha left out of South African squad
Johan Botha has described as "pretty simple" the work required to remedy his bowling action, but the controversial spinner has nonetheless been stood down from the South African side for the fifth one-day international against Australia. Under ICC guidelines, Botha was eligible for selection in the series finale at the Wanderers on Friday despite being cited for a suspect action after Monday's match in Port Elizabeth, but team management opted against the move in a bid to shield their vice-captain from the spotlight.
Botha is expected to fly to Perth in the coming days to undergo testing at the University of Western Australia. The examination will most likely be carried out by Bruce Elliott, the ICC-approved biomechanist who twice tested Botha in 2006, and comes after umpires officiating the fourth one-day international at St George's Park queried his doosra and faster deliveries. Botha, though, believes only minor tweaking will be required to rectify his action.
"We know what we want to do and we know what we need to do," Botha told Cricinfo. "It's pretty simple."
Graeme Smith, the South African captain, told reporters in Johannesburg that the move to stand Botha down from the fifth one-day was designed to relieve the pressure on him. Smith said Botha had been working on his action with South Africa's bowling coach, Vinnie Barnes, in recent days and reiterated that the spinner remained an integral member of his one-day squad.
"We just felt it was important to take the focus off him," Smith said.
Wayne Parnell, South Africa's promising teenage fast bowler, was also left out for the final one-dayer against Australia at the Wanderers; a match that assumed dead-rubber status with the hosts' 61-run victory at St George's Park on Monday. Parnell and Botha were replaced by Morne Morkel and Makhaya Ntini.
Victory in Johannesburg will cap a successful campaign for the South Africans, during which they claimed a stunning 2-1 Test victory in Australia and won back-to-back limited overs series against Ponting's men, taking them to the top of the ODI rankings. Another loss for Australia, meanwhile, would confirm their drop to No. 3 in the ODI rankings, behind South Africa and India.
"If I look back at the highlights over the past 18 months, I have to put the away Test series victories over England and Australia at the top of the list," Smith said. "These have been the two toughest assignments for South African cricket in the past and to have achieved both of those successes in the space of six months has been very special for this team. The other major highlight must be the achievement of winning both the Test and ODI series in Australia.
"On an individual level the most pleasing aspect has been the way the younger players have come through. You need a hard core of experience on which to base a top team and we now have the ideal balance of youth and experience coming together. The emergence of these young players has also enabled us to develop our one-day brand and the type of cricket we want to play."
Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo