England v South Africa, World T20, Group E, Barbados May 8, 2010

Smith rues more missed chances


South Africa's stuttering one-day form hit another low point with their comprehensive 39-run defeat against England and it left Graeme Smith fuming at the basic errors made in the field. The reversal leaves them facing a crucial match against Pakistan in St Lucia on Monday if they want to progress to the semi-finals and on this effort that is anything but certain.

After an efficient performance against New Zealand two nights ago South Africa reverted to the indifferent form that has plagued their displays in coloured clothes since last year's World Twenty20 in England, where they reached the semi-finals. Since then they have been dumped out of the first round of the Champions Trophy on home soil, shared the Twenty20 series with England, lost the ODI contest and also pulled up short in India.

What made it even more frustrating for Smith was that they created chances but a combination of bowling and fielding errors meant they didn't count. Within the space of three deliveries Craig Kieswetter was caught at third man off a Morne Morkel no-ball and Kevin Pietersen edged between Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis. Then, in the 10th over, Kieswetter was given a second life when JP Duminy spilled a simple chance at deep midwicket.

"I think the first six overs were especially disappointing," Smith said. "Basic mistakes, no-balls, and missed chances up-front proved costly for us. We really could have had England three or four down in those first six overs and all the plans we had up-front worked, Morne bowling at Kevin and Kieswetter, they worked for us but basic mistakes allowed them to get a partnership that has proven to be the difference between the two teams.

"The game is often about small moments and pressure. We cost ourselves a lot by not being up to those small moments and we allowed England to put us under pressure."

Of particular concern for Smith will be the front-foot problems for Morkel, who has now taken two crucial wickets in this tournament off illegal deliveries. In South Africa's opening match against India he had Suresh Raina caught at mid-off from a no-ball and the left-hander went on to get a match-winning 101. Kieswetter's contribution wasn't so substantial, but the impact on South Africa's mindset was significant.

"It is very frustrating and something we have spoken about," Smith said. "It seems to come and go, he goes through phases where he doesn't bowl them and then he goes through phases when he does. I guess it is up to the bowling coach and Morne to get it right."

The problem is that South Africa's strategy is based around the twin pace threat posed by Morkel and Dale Steyn, although that game-plan may now have to be adjusted for the final group match on the slower surface in St Lucia. "The players are there. It is just about getting it together again," Smith said.

"We proved against New Zealand that we can play to a certain level and be difficult to beat. It is about us regrouping mentally, making sure that tomorrow we work out what went wrong and try and put it right against Pakistan. St Lucia is a very different wicket, a different stadium, so we need to be able to put that into play in those conditions."

Despite the fumbling display in the field South Africa would have been expected to make a better fist of the run chase, but the top order couldn't find any early momentum and then England's spinners preyed on the batsmen's frustrations. "I found the wicket pretty two paced and hard to play freely on," Smith said.

"Everyone of our batters struggled except for JP [Duminy] really. You have to give credit to England's bowlers. They hit the right areas, they didn't give us any room, they tucked us up, hit the deck nice and hard, almost the total opposite to the way we bowled in the first six."

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • diren on May 10, 2010, 8:55 GMT

    SA will win this tournament!!!! you know y? because they have been horrible until now......very different to other world cups where they start like a house on fire....its their time

  • Eric on May 9, 2010, 21:49 GMT

    South Africa's problem is that both Kallis which is normal n is his role in the tym has a strike rate of 119....instead of the other top 4 upping their tempo...Smith, Gibbs n de Villers av a simillar strike rate 4 the tournament...yu can onli av 1 top 4 batsman play a cautius role in T20...the rest have to go for it...

  • Eoin on May 9, 2010, 18:01 GMT

    Smith should just be honest to himself and quit T-20 cricket. His technique does not even in the least bit suggest that he can open the batting in a T-20 game. Out of all the teams SA's probably got the slowest opening pair. The chase against Eng was exactly the same as the one against India. There is a problem, and yeah fine you can blame the bowlers, but in cricket, there are always (rain excluded) two sides to a game. The batting was just horrible as "big" as the names are. The ironic thing is that when you look at SA's domestic T20 leagues, there are so many other players capable of providing firepower at the top. Honesty will do Smith and the selectors a whole lotta good right now because I don't feel - even in his comments - that he's being honest to anyone at all, even himself.

  • Lou on May 9, 2010, 13:56 GMT

    Smith can rue the missed chances, but what about the batting display? They all looked like they were panicking yet ths score wasn't even 170. There were some really horrible mows and Smith was far too cautious up front. They do this a lot, play cautiously and the fans watch the run-rate mounts and wonder how many rabbits AB and Albie are going to have to pull out of the hat.

    Also, Gibbs is past it. He is good for about 20 runs off 18 balls. He was pretty useless for Deccan as well.

  • Mudhasir on May 9, 2010, 11:41 GMT

    Firstly its two slow starters opening the batting for them.They must send Kallis down the order and open with Gibbs or Bosman along with smith to take the pressure of Smith.Secondly they must play according to the condition and look at the weaknesses of opposition, yesterday they missed it because English batsmen are not good spin players and SA must had played vd merwe. Again if win the toss bat first everytime because its your strength, score as much as possible and your bowlers will finish the job.Even if u score less u can depend on ur bowling attack.On the other hand if u bat second ur batsmen doesnt come up to the expectation and succumb to the pressure. T20 wc 2007 lost batting 2nd against india and doesnt even score 125 to qualify.T20 wc 2009 semis lost again batting seecond against pakistan

  • cricket on May 9, 2010, 11:25 GMT

    smith and kallis just need to start quicker, its killing the rest of our batting line up when they hav to cum in and score at 10 12 runs and over with the field out, when kallis and smith are not taking any risks at the easiest time to score and gain momentum.

  • Dummy4 on May 9, 2010, 11:19 GMT

    I'VE supported team south africa since 1998-99... but they've done nothing else since then rather than disappointing their fans... they r yet to bring an icc trophy home... i'd rather stop supporting them

  • Kumar on May 9, 2010, 10:32 GMT

    SA you will be out of tournament.England and New Zealand will go to Semi final.Good luck for 2011 world cup

  • Kumar on May 9, 2010, 10:30 GMT

    South Africa your lost to England means your are out of tournament of world T20 2010.I m pretty sure England and New Zealand will qualify for Semi final.Good luck for Graeme Smith for 2011 world cup..

  • Dummy4 on May 9, 2010, 9:12 GMT

    The problem lies with the management of South African cricket, Smith is too rigid, they must change according to the conditions, Smith is not a risk taker and in T20 cricket it is about taking calculated risks. It is time for a new T20 captain like Johan Botha, he shown in Australia that he can manage the shorter version of the game. Smith is a good captain, but T20 cricket is not his cup of tea. Please get injured Smith.

  • No featured comments at the moment.