South African captain Hashim Amla is looking forward to the return of a handful of big-name players for the ODIs against Australia following a spirited, if wobbly, showing in the drawn Pro20 series.
Were it not for the amazing heroics of Wayne Parnell and Rusty Theron in the last five overs at the Wanderers, South Africa would have lost the series 2-0 and there is clearly much room for improvement against the number one ranked team in ODIs.
The return of Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn, Mark Boucher, Imran Tahir and Faf du Plessis should add enormously to the team in both the batting and bowling departments heading into the first ODI in Centurion on Wednesday.
“Of course the senior players were missed as they’re such class players, but they were rested to give others an opportunity. We know what fantastic players they are, but we need to get an idea of how the youngsters play,” Amla said after the three-wicket Pro20 victory at the Wanderers.
What the thrilling triumph showed more than anything is that there is a tremendous spirit in the South African team, which Amla is understandably thrilled about.
“There is room for lots of improvement, which is exciting, but it’s always important to get a victory. The teams will change, but the spirit of the team is lifted,” he said.
In terms of the bowling, Theron and Lonwabo Tsotsobe were outstanding, but there is obviously still space for improvement in the attack. Parnell, in particular, did not have a good day with the ball, conceding 44 runs in his four overs.
“We always knew Parnell could bat and he’ll bounce back as a bowler,” Amla said. “He’s still got a lot of improvement to do, but we know he can do it.”
“Lopsy was so economical, but our bowlers are still learning and getting more and more intelligent.”
Amla was understandably fulsome in his praise of the two batting stars, Parnell and Theron, who added an astonishing 64 off 30 balls in their unbeaten eighth-wicket partnership.
“At 84 for seven, a win looked very far away but the guys were pretty calm. It’s a tribute to them and to what we are trying to develop in the team,” said Amla. “It was sensible batting at the end, mixed with big hitting, which won us the match.”
While the likes of Kallis, Steyn and Boucher come with all the experience in the world pre-packaged, the Pro20 side had a youthful look about it and Amla is confident they can develop further into a real force.
“T20 is difficult to build a massive judgment on, but our youngsters have a great attitude and massive desire to learn.
“That’s a combination that can take you really far. We’re lucky guys like Colin Ingram, Heino Kuhn, David Miller, Wayne and Rusty are in our team and doing well. Everyone is behind them and the team is in a good space where they can express themselves,” Amla said.
Australia will obviously be a different kettle of fish themselves in the ODIs, with the return to action of superstars Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting.