South Africa v Zimbabwe, 3rd ODI, Benoni October 22, 2010

Smith lauds newcomers after series victory


It was always likely that South Africa would dominate this series, but Zimbabwe's plucky performances with the bat in the Twenty20s and first two ODIs meant the scale of their crushing defeat in Benoni was unexpected. The hosts started the tour in slightly laboured fashion, their bowling and fielding well below their usual standards, but in the final game all three departments clicked and they duly ran to a record-breaking 272-run win.

"Tonight was a good night," said South African captain Graeme Smith. "It can be hard to maintain intensity when you've got 400 on the board and you clean them up cheaply, but I was happy with the intensity we showed. When you've got 400 it's really easy to drift but the bowlers really set their own standards tonight, which was encouraging.

"We've had a few issues in this series on the bowling front, but there were a lot of positives that came out at the end," added Smith. "I think we've set up a good base despite there being a couple of changes that lie ahead. There's good confidence around the group in terms of performances, and it doesn't really matter who you play, your confidence is always the key in sport."

South Africa have been forced to experiment in this series in the absence of senior players such as Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. While their rookie batsmen, Colin Ingram and David Miller, have slotted into the side seamlessly, the back-up bowling pack initially fired in fits and starts. But Rusty Theron eventually finished as the leading wicket-taker in his debut series and Wayne Parnell also improved with each outing.

"I think it's great," Smith said of their performances. "You want to see these guys coming in and performing well. Initially there was a question about the back-up bowling unit, and we had a lot of young batters coming through. It's never going to be easy replacing Steyn and Morkel, but it's nice to see guys like Rusty and some of the other guys coming in and impressing."

South Africa's Man of the Series, AB de Villiers helped himself to 231 runs in three innings, including two consecutive hundreds in Potchefstroom and Benoni. With Mark Boucher not picked for this series de Villiers also shouldered the burden of keeping wicket, taking six catches. He credited a break from the game since South Africa's tour of the West Indies concluded in June for his energetic start to the season.

"I think the break was very good for me, just getting the mind off cricket for a while," he said. "Especially after last season, which was a very long season that was a little bit of an up and down season and quite tough mentally. So getting away from the game totally for two months was really good, and I've come back really refreshed and energised."

Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • diren on October 25, 2010, 6:22 GMT

    This really is a deadly looking sa team, they got some explosive power hitters in AB, Dumminy, Albie and now Miller. THey also have the guys that can build an innings like kallis ,smith and now amla......what a batting line up!!! the bowling is top to with steyn , morkel , parnel and now theron.....the only weakness i see????? They dont have a wicket taking spinner!

  • Dummy4 on October 24, 2010, 15:16 GMT

    If Colin Ingram batted at 3 in each match he would have been player of the series.

  • Garreth on October 24, 2010, 8:50 GMT

    This may be a risk but I feel this young spinner, Dale Deeb, could be quite potent. He is currently playing a game against the Dolphins and has dismissed the likes of Ahmed Amla (captain), Imraan Khan (former protea) and Ravi Bopara (former England) with his clever bowling.

    Another option is Imran Tahir. Apparently from December 2010 he becomes eligible to paly for South Africa. He has got the most wickets in first class cricket this year, miles beyond anyone else in the world. Check his stats. He is the best spinner to have never played international cricket.

    Either of these 2, I feel could form a formidable partnership with Johan Botha. Deeb can bat too.

  • Chris on October 24, 2010, 7:51 GMT

    South Africa did what was expected.We have a good team/squad and it looks quite settled for the world cup.I think 1 or two changes to the squad should be made.Robin Peterson should get the boot as i really do not know what he is doing in the squad(transf_____!!)Roelf Van Der Merwe should get the nod,I would like to see Alviro Pietersen is the squad as well as he has done well in his few outings.The team should like something like this and in this order as well.Smith,Amla,Kallis,Duminy,De Villiers,Miller,A Morkel,Botha,Parnell,M Morkel,Steyn.Theron would then be back up for Morne & Parnell,Roelf for Botha,and Alviro can bat anywhere in the order,back up as in form and injuries.Bowling will be Steyn,M Morkel,Parnell,A Morkel,Botha,Kallis,Duminy.The only problem might getting Majola to sign this team off as there is only 2 players of colour,dam i am a non white South African and would love to see more players of colour BUT this is an profesional sport and MERIT should be the order of day

  • Dummy4 on October 23, 2010, 14:29 GMT

    contemplating over south african playing 11 in world cup, they can continue with 3 fast bowlers, and one specialist spinner. then jacques kallis will bowl remaining 10 overs and if necessary JP duminy will bowl few overs as a backup spinner. so they can field albie morkel at no. 7 as an inning finisher, while Kallis, AB de villiers, JP and david miller will be middle order who can also be explosive at any time.

  • Dummy4 on October 23, 2010, 13:42 GMT

    Sorry, I did not mean it, more over SA is not in the same group with BD in 2011 WC.My focus is SA being the top cricketing nation alway's struggle in indian subcontinent.Although in 1998 SA won the champion;s trophy held at Dhaka(BD being the host).BD has all the respect for SA cricket.When BD got Test status in 2000 at that time E, Barlow was the first official coach for BD Cricket

  • Dummy4 on October 23, 2010, 10:53 GMT

    @ Tarik, You won some matches , and now you started talking like BD is unbeatable in subcontinent... Wake up man

  • Shulz Van on October 23, 2010, 7:00 GMT

    I loved the way BD beat NZ in the recent ODI's. BD is getting better n deserved the win. I agree with Tarik Imam that it would be hard for SA playin BD in the sub-continent. And the only reason is beacause BD has 3 orthodox left arm spinners. Which created the problem for SA in the last WC. And it would be harder in Dhaka this time around. But SA is still a heavyweight and favourite..It would be interesting cos i do feel that BD has the abilty..esp against SA who are relatively weak against spin comparing to other nations...thats the only weak point in SA. But there very stong in the other aspects which could be scary for any team at the moment...remember this Zimbabwe team is not bad.They are capable of beating India twice n played the finals against SL jus few months ago..This SA batting line up is scary...i can see a new ZULU in Miller and Hashim Amla can really test a good fast bowler..Steyn, Morne, Parnell, Theron, Botha, Kallis, Albie and Duminy looks a formidable bowling line up

  • Dummy4 on October 23, 2010, 5:09 GMT

    I am from Bangladesh,Yes It's big win for SA in their own condition, but it will be great challenge in our Sub continent.Few year's back SA were struggling in one of the Test Match's at Dhaka against Banbladesh.If you are a good side then your real test will be coming WC 2011.Last WC you got beaten by BD

  • Amahl on October 23, 2010, 4:58 GMT

    Miller looks to be an ideal finisher for SA. I would really favour him over Albie whose contributions with both bat and ball have been pretty average in the past while. Theron also is an outstanding bowler in limited overs cricket and I feel will make a very potent attack alongside Steyn, Morne and Parnell. If anything SA truly lack, it is a penetrative spinner which I think they need to recruit quickly.

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