South Africa v England, 3rd ODI, Centurion February 8, 2016

Amla aware of SA balance issues


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Must bring out our best game - Amla

The absence of a genuine allrounder continues to haunt South Africa as they try to balance a long enough batting line-up with a sufficiently complete bowling pack. So far, they are shortchanging themselves in both departments.

With seven specialist batsmen, South Africa can only accommodate a four-person attack, which has left JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien to share the rest of the bowling duties. In two matches, they have cost South Africa 155 runs and claimed one wicket, and only contributed 86 runs with the bat, leaving South Africa to contemplate a change of personnel, especially with Chris Morris and David Wiese in the squad as well.

"There has been a lot of chat about having five frontline bowlers. JP and Fudgie have tried their best to contain as many runs as they can but England are a team that bats very deep," Hashim Amla said. "That allows the them to attack right through the game. If they do lose a wicket here and there and even though they do have a few players who they bat around, because they bat until No.10 at least they have a bit of cushion to keep going and that makes it a well-balanced team. Maybe in that respect, they've edged us a little bit."

While England have ten batsmen and six bowlers, South Africa seem under-resourced but Amla is not quite sure how they can fix that. "You have to have the personnel to put into the team. You can't just load it with 11 batters, it doesn't make sense," he said. "If you have the personnel then you can do it, but our best bowlers are playing and our best batters are playing. I know guys have spoken about trying to lengthen our batting but with the wickets you do come across in one-day cricket, you can't sacrifice quality of bowling. If you have the personnel to bat deep and have a good bowling attack like England do, then we would love to do that."

A possible solution is to ride out the current tough times and hope that someone like Kagiso Rabada develops into an allrounder. "He takes his batting very seriously. We joke when he bats that he looks a bit like Chris Gayle so if he develops into that, that would be great," Amla said. "He is a talented youngster and in the right environment with the right people encouraging him, why not?"

But until that happens, the rest of the South Africa team needs to perform to potential and that includes Amla. He has managed just 10 runs in the series so far, he last scored an ODI half-century 10 innings ago against New Zealand in August 2015 and it seems as though the poor run of form he shook off in Tests has returned. With the series on the line, he understands the role he needs to play in trying to save it.

"It's important that I get runs every game. We are a team that has had seven batters for a long time and it's been very important for those seven batters to take responsibility and score the runs for the team and not leave it for No.8, 9, 10 and 11," Amla said. "That's been our job for the last couple of years so we're hoping like to get back to that to make it easier for the bowlers if we do bat first and if we bowl first, to make it easier for everyone else."

Should South Africa lose in Centurion, it will be the first time since 2001-02 that they have conceded a home Test and ODI series to the same opposition on the same tour and will only open up more questions about the state of the game in a country where the spotlight is on development. "It would be a blow to lose to the series but we are not thinking about that," Amla said. "If we win this, we get some momentum for the next one and then hopefully win the one in Cape Town. That's how we are visioning our progress from here. Everything starts tomorrow."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Gareth on February 9, 2016, 19:21 GMT

    Miller's average after the same games (39) as Behardien was 29. Miller's average looks OK because of runs against WI and Zim and that's it. He has never performed domestically so why he gets so many chances is absurd. Let him play 2020 cricket and be done.

  • Gareth on February 9, 2016, 15:42 GMT

    David Miller's List A average is overinflated. At franchise List A it drop to 32. He is nowhere near even the top 30 or 40 batsmen at franchise level... At international level, he averages 21 vs. India, 19 vs NZ, 19 vs Pakistan, and his best among top teams 32 vs. Australia. (He has only ever batted once vs. England). His average is puffed up from performances vs. WI and Zim! He never got into the SA side on his domestic performances, which have been consistently ordinary, and his international performances have also been consistently ordinary. He has had more than enough chances to prove all this hype...

  • Daniel on February 9, 2016, 12:54 GMT

    @MADIMETJA DMAX I suggest you re-look at your stats. Behardien managed a strikerate above 100 only 6 times in those 16 innings, and one of those games was against the UAE, a team of semi professionals (so did Miller admittedly, but as you've pointed out, he was dropped over poor form). Since Behardien made his debut Miller has averaged 37, including that period of bad form. Behardien is also 6 years older. Miller was just 20 when he was given his chance, and hadnt even made his franchise FC debut yet, while Behardien had 9 years of FC experience behind him when he made his debut. There is a reason why Miller is the captain of an IPL franchise, while Behardien didnt even get a bid in the auction. Miller is the future, Behardien at 32, isnt

  • Kendal on February 9, 2016, 11:15 GMT

    @Sammy - incorrect. SA won the ODI series vs India in India 3-2. Ryan McLaren must be having a quiet semi-bitter laugh to himself somewhere. He got Johnson-ed, and that was the end of him at international level it seems. A bit unfair, when you consider how many other more illustrious batsmen were also Johnson-ed. He broke Smith's fingers for fun at one point. Then they bring in a batsman (Behardien) to replace him, and feel compelled to stick with that strange choice for as long as seems fair. Combine that with Duminy losing all confidence in his bowling (and batting for that matter) and you have the current situation. At least Morris can bowl with some pace and has a yorker and a competitive spirit. There is no real easy solution, though, without some radical overhauls in performance-based selection. I'm not talking about quotas, either.

  • Keith Waters on February 9, 2016, 11:08 GMT

    @SAMMY SA won both the ODI'S and T20s in India so they haven't just lost one after the other!

    @ALEXK400 you must have been watching the wrong Duminy then cause in ODI'S he can hit the ball as hard and far as anyone! He got sawn off by a shocker last match when set, it happens shouldnt be dropped because of it though!

    Although I do agree SA should make a call on dropping one of Behardian or Duminy for a better bowler perhaps wiese or morris and give Radaba ago as an expansive no8 hr seems like to batting.

  • Peter on February 9, 2016, 10:51 GMT

    Blimey - lots of navel gazing from SA after two hardly emphatic defeats - we were all robbed of an exciting finish in the 1st game by the weather Gods and until Buttler got going the 2nd ODI was very much in the balance. So rather like before the final Test I don't think things are quite as bad as they seem for SA or quite as good for England. the 5th bowler is obviously a big issue for SA - as is Hashim Amla's form - Ryan McLaren is 33 today so hardly a long term solution - surely in a series that means little - the Champions Trophy is over a year away - surely now is the time to experiment and give opportunities to players like Dwaine Pretorius - he's nearly 27 - so if not now, when??? A bit more urgency and inventiveness is needed from the captain ABdeV in the field and a decent knock from Amla would make the garden look a bit greener...

  •   Moos Liem on February 9, 2016, 10:18 GMT

    Why on earth do you "rest" a youngster like Rabada and play an older guy like Morkel who never had any breaks? Rabada was on song in the tests, and it was obvious he was a bit off the boil in the second ODI, having not played for a few weeks?

  •   Moos Liem on February 9, 2016, 10:15 GMT

    Why are they forcing behardien to be an all rounder. He must make the team as a batsmen. In the previous game he made 23 off 26 balls and rotated the strike from ball one. If he had to bat with AB instead of Duminy, AB would have received much more of the strike and the run rate would have been much better. Commentators keep saying behardien must improve his average, but how do you do that if you keep getting pigeon holed as a finisher with only a handful of overs to bat. Duminy wasted a lot of balls. Nothing is said of Riley who failed again for the umpteenth time. Drop duminy and bump Behardien up after FAF. Swop Riley with Miller and bring in Chris Morris as an allrounder to bowl 10 overs. He proved he can bat during the tests. Maybe even consider bringing in Themba instead of Riley or Miller. Themba proved to be an attacking player during the tests. It would be easier for him to attack in one days where bowlers are not allowed to bowl wide.

  • Grant on February 9, 2016, 7:06 GMT

    Amla is right, the team is out of balance. The selectors are either not up to the task or they have too many "criteria" to meet. I think the selection is quite easy. Behardien would be fine as the 6th bowler (not the 5th), he looks like an intelligent 1 day player. We need a genuine seam all rounder at 7. It should be McLaren, with Pretorius, Morris and Wiese in training. My team would be : Amla, Qdk, Faf, AB, Rossouw, Behardien, McLaren, Rabada, Abbott, Morkel, Tahir.

  • Bertus on February 9, 2016, 6:42 GMT

    I agree that Dwaine Pretorius has massive potential, and he has produced in First class cricket as of late, but he hasn't had a decent run in the Lions franchise team as yet. Maybe one more season or a couple of good performances should prove his worth? A team which includes Wayne Parnell and Simon Harmer as all rounders will do better than Fudge and JP. My left-field team would be: 1) QdK 2) Elgar 3) Amla 4) Faf 5) AB 6) Rilee 7) Parnell 8) Harmer 9) Rabada 10) Steyn 11) Tahir/Morkel. Thus 5 full time bowlers and bats up to number 8

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