A day after their Twenty20 thrashing, South Africa warmed up for the VB Series with a resounding 94-run win against Queensland at The Gabba. The South Africa seamers tore the home side's batting to shreds with Garnett Kruger emerging as the surprise package by snaffling three scalps.
Kruger may not have been in the squad if Makhaya Ntini had been fit but, after his 3 for 18, he has now pushed himself forward for a starting place in South Africa's first game, against Australia on Sunday.
Graeme Smith indicated that Kruger and Monde Zondeki would get opportunities throughout the VB Series: "They're young boys but they've been around a while in domestic cricket," he said. "They'll get an opportunity during the VB series and tonight's a good start for them."
Kruger started the Queensland slide by removing Jimmy Maher in the second over and, with Shaun Pollock also wading in with three wickets, the run chase was soon in tatters at 6 for 28. Zondeki then chipped in with two wickets in his first over and at 8 for 50, Matthew Hayden's 16 was threatening to be the highest score of the innings.
Andy Bichel and Nathan Hauritz at least carried Queensland into three figures with a ninth wicket stand of 50, before Johan Botha and Jacques Kallis wrapped up the win. However, even the efficient display in the field couldn't hide another batting effort that was far from convincing.
The South African top order struggled against the international-class attack of Bichel, Mitchell Johnson and Michael Kasprowicz. Smith again fell early when he hooked to square-leg, with his form now a growing issue, and he was quickly followed by Hershelle Gibbs and Kallis, leaving Smith to admit there was plenty of room for improvement. "There are some things to work on because the big games are coming up."
Boeta Dippenaar and Jacques Rudolph did show some form as they rebuilt with a watchful stand of 88 in 20 overs. Johnson continued to bounce back from his omission from Australia's VB Series squad by removing Mark Boucher and Pollock in two balls, leaving Andrew Hall to boost the total with a run-a-ball 29.
There is improving news for South Africa on the injury front with Andre Nel (foot), Justin Kemp (shoulder) and Ashwell Prince (thigh) all expected to be fit for the next warm-up match on Friday after being rested for this match.