Sri Lanka in South Africa 2011-12 December 18, 2011

'Tough for Sri Lanka to come back' - Donald


Allan Donald, South Africa's bowling coach, believes Sri Lanka will struggle to make a contest out of the remaining two Test matches in the series. The visitors were blown away by an innings and 81-runs in Centurion, being bowled out for under 200 in both innings, and Donald said that although they have a quality line-up, things will not get any easier for them.

"What they have in the tank and what they bring to the party on a different surface will be different but if we're going to bowl like we are at the moment, and the wickets have helped, it's going to be tough for them to come back into this series," he said. "We'll make sure of that."

South Africa's attack benefitted from a green top in Centurion and Donald expects another "bouncy" track in Durban, without "too much lateral movement." Conditions have been so tailor-made to suit the attack that Graeme Smith said the batsmen may be "hoping for a flatter wicket" in the near future.

While the pitches have aided South Africa's bowlers, Donald said they have to be wary of complacence, which can creep in if too much is in your favour. "Sometimes when you get on a responsive wicket, you hesitantly get into your work," Donald said. "Instead of just bowling into an area, you feel you need to get into the hot-zone more often." The hot-zone refers to a length a little fuller than usual, something Morne Morkel has struggled to find.

Morkel attracted criticism rather than praise after the first Test, as he looked out of sorts at first change. Donald said all he needs is more game time and that a return to form is inevitable. "I put myself in his shoes a lot of the time. I was a rhythm bowler and a confidence bowler and I needed to bowl a lot to have that confidence and to bowl in certain areas with good pace. Morne is exactly the same. We tinkered with a few things yesterday after the day's play and I think he is now confident to take it further. We know what Morne is capable of and it's not far away that he will be knocking the door down again."

Morkel faces pressure from Marchant de Lange, who was included in the squad as part of a learning process. De Lange has only played 14 first-class matches but has been identified as a future prospect and is being personally groomed by Donald. "The good thing about Marchant is that he is asking a lot of questions," Donald said. "It's wonderful to have him in our group because it keeps everyone on their toes and challenging for places."

There have also been calls to replace Morkel with left-armer Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who was dropped from the Test side before last month's Australia series. Tsotsobe has since suffered a side strain and should be ready to make his comeback soon.

The other concern is the minimal impact that legspinner Imran Tahir has made. Seamer-friendly surfaces have made it difficult for him, but he also struggled with running on the danger area of the pitch. Tahir spend the build up to the Test working with High Performance coach Vincent Barnes and former international Paul Adams, and Donald believes he is ready to create his own big splash. "He [Tahir] is happy now," Donald said. "The one thing that worried us a little bit is that he gets too concerned about what he is doing in that zone and doesn't concentrate on his bowling."

Far from a disciplinarian, Donald sees his role as facilitating getting the best out of a talented back. "At this level, you're not going to teach people how to bowl. We are trying to remind those guys how good they are and getting them to be better. Sometimes, we are still getting too loose or maybe a little too arrogant, but we manage to pull it back. Sometimes, we do not get off to a good start and at the end of the day we play catch up cricket but we pull it back somehow.

"That's the kind of class we have at the moment, even if we aren't doing well, we manage to pull it back."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 21, 2011, 11:47 GMT

    srilanka plz dont make false staements how you have reach semifinals in 2003 everyone knows also in 1996 same case southafrica is far better team also youare worst in subcontinent look at india drew in 2002 england won netwest third team was lanka there drew in 2003 australia won test in 2007 england won in durban 2006 fastest pitch in sa and 2008 won in perth australia and in home unbeateable also won cb series autralia 2008 srilanka was third team smand ashed by austrlia india then india won only this year england tour india played badly but due to injuries pakistan not great like india did outside but better than lanka

  • Dummy4 on December 21, 2011, 11:40 GMT

    This is definately not the class of '96. Forget the past and look to the future, and its looking a little bleak for Sri lanka. Board needs to sort it out quick and appoint a new captain. The old guys should consider ritiring and letting the noobs in for a run before next world cup. Between India and Sri lanka thiese could be the oldest combined teams playing cricket at the moment!

  • Dummy4 on December 21, 2011, 10:57 GMT

    @suranga:you are listing one day cricket is accepted that sri lanka is a good one day outfit..but test cricket is important

  • Dummy4 on December 21, 2011, 6:59 GMT

    I agree with him. Also I want to tell somthing to Sl officials: This is how the home grounds are prepared for visitors ... but what you do? make grounds for the opposition... best example is recent eng and aus visits. We had strong spin attack with murali, mendi, herath, jeevan etc and also these teams are less confindent in spin attack, we made all fast pitches and got hammered.n Stupids! Look at SA grounds... they are as green as paddy fields and made for their bawlers ... i dont know what to tell these guys ... we need some robotic machin players to play in any ground in any conditions ...

  • Mick on December 21, 2011, 0:52 GMT

    @Suranga: Okay mate, it wasn't really my intention to enter a tit for tat argument about who did what when. But since you asked. My team is Australia - What have they achieved? Well in the period you mention I guess here's a summary. Undisputed Kings of Cricket for 15 years. 4 world cup finals. 3 world cup wins. Test wins in every environment. 16 straight Test wins on two occasions etc etc. But I digress. If you have to use results from 15yrs ago to argue how good your team is now, I think you're proving my point that SL is currently below avg. I'm not revelling in the fact, but recent results suggest that's the case. Just as I am willing to admit that despite all the achievements listed above, Australia is currently, at best, an average side. Let's just not blame conditions when SL can't even win on their own pitches of late.

  • Shulz Van on December 21, 2011, 0:21 GMT

    @ Suranga Devamullage your point is are trying to say West Indies is the best side right now?? They were great but that does not mean they are still great. They are below average now...N so is SL...The team u are talking about had players like Ranatunga, De Silva, Jayasuriya, Vaas n Murali....yes they were great but this SL team is not the same team they dont have the same players...They are a bit below average right after the World Cup....Even the way they played in the finals against India I was disheartened as i was Supporting SL...But it happens...SL have been a great team in Cricket History but that wont help them if they are not performing at present.....WC 96 or SA 's last tour to SL which was more than 5 years ago has nothin to do with current cricket...SA is a far superior side now.

  • Dummy4 on December 20, 2011, 20:51 GMT

    @mitcher, if yoy think Sri Lanka is below avg side how come that we won WC in 1996, Semi Finalist in 2003 WC, Runners up in 2007 & 2011. What your team achieved so far ?? Absolutely nothing ist it ??? So stop criticizing other teams. What happened to When SA toured last time in SL ??? Can you remember ???

  • Prin on December 20, 2011, 13:57 GMT

    @ Mitcher: Thank you for that. They complain more than anyone else. Geez. If RSA went to India, we'd expect dustbowls and nothing less. Instead of complaining, we'll just try our best to prepare for the specific conditions. If we lose, then so be it. But please, can we just watch cricket and not have people blame conditions all the time?!?!

  • Mick on December 19, 2011, 23:17 GMT

    Oh come on! The conditions are to blame?!?! SL prepared a rank turner against Australia and got beaten. They're just a below average side. Also, seems the Indian fans want to boast how they now control the game and in the same breath moan that they are always hard done by by the authorities (pitches, discipline etc). Not sure you can have it both ways.

  • S on December 19, 2011, 23:03 GMT

    I presume SA will have a back to back tour to SL soon. If not soon but in the future. We'll see then Mr.Donald.

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