Kirsten defends Proteas World Twenty20 selection
SOUTH African cricket’s think-tank admitted incorrect decision-making at key moments cost them at the World Twenty20.
However, head coach Gary Kirsten denied one of those mistakes was in selection.
The composition of the team was closely scrutinised in the aftermath of the Proteas’ Super Eight exit.
Left-arm seamer Lonwabo Tsotsobe and versatile batsman Justin Ontong did not play a single match. As South Africa’s batting lineup consistently failed to post sizeable totals, the inclusion of opening batsman Richard Levi was a major criticism.
Levi’s only significant score after he broke the world record for the highest individual Twenty20 score against New Zealand in February was a half-century against Zimbabwe. He struggled on slow pitches and against spin but Kirsten believes both problems can be overcome.
"He has got work to do and he knows that," Kirsten said "But he is not someone we just can throw onto the scrap heap because he’s proved he can be a devastating hitter."
Levi will represent Mumbai Indians in the upcoming Champions League Twenty20 before returning to his franchise.
Cobras coach Paul Adams aims to have him firing during the domestic one-day cup next month.
"I want to see what kind of space he is in and what needs to be done," he said. "But I also don’t want to box him in as a limited-overs player. People tend to make big calls on young players. He has got a lot of time and we need to be patient with him."
Someone like Robin Peterson is a perfect example for Levi to learn from. Peterson was first picked for South Africa in 2002 and played 40 one-dayers before last year’s World Cup. There, he was the leading wicket-taker for South Africa and has since been a permanent fixture in the one-day starting XI and established himself in the Twenty20 team. "With time, he developed his game and learnt his strengths and weaknesses. Then he had the injection of confidence and look at him now," Adams said.
Peterson was South Africa’s standout performer at the Twenty20 and proved Kirsten’s philosophy of consistency in selection does bring rewards.
If not selection, where were the errors made that caused the Proteas to crash out?
Captain AB De Villiers accepted the responsibility for not using the players at his disposal as well as he could have. "As a captain, I would like to get better at knowing who to turn to when," he said. "There are so many different situations we are confronted with in a cricket game and it’s important for me to pick on the right guys at the right time."
De Villiers’ most glaring blunder was in the match against Pakistan, when he batted himself too low down the order and used seam instead of spin during the Pakistan chase.
South Africa lost the match and he believes that was the game that turned their campaign into a failure. "It’s hard to come back in a short and quick tournament. You need momentum, you need to close down the games you control. It was up to us to take the win and we didn’t do that."
Kirsten said the team had accepted they were the cause of their own downfall and their reputation as perennial chokers would only grow.
De Villiers will have to overcome injuries, which have ruled him out of the Champions League Twenty20 and put his participation in the tour of Australia next month in doubt, before he can prove Kirsten right.
More in this section
- Broad helps England trounce New Zealand
- Cricket’s ‘Facebook’ to unite players and fans
- Indian bowlers arrested over spot-fixing
- Furore over ICC vote will not prove a watershed, says players’ body
- Work cut out for England as Test with Kiwis begins
- Absent Kallis and Smith not a deathblow for SA, says Cook
- SABC presenter Mbuli hailed as patriot and ‘zealous newshound’
- Guptagate report shows manipulation, collusion and illegal blue lights
- Iran ‘behind US cyber blitz’
- There just may be glitter in gold shares
- Sanral ‘refuses’ to disclose Winelands toll costs, says City of Cape Town
- Gym chains move up, down and into Africa