Hopefully this will not be a watered down affair. South Africa are feeling the effects of soggy weather, homesickness, injury time outs and resurgence from England by way of their skipper Kevin Pietersen. It is still early days in the one day series. But South Africa need to tenaciously fight off the spring in the step that England seem to be enjoying.
It is hard to believe that a team win nine successive victories would feel low after just one victory. But the matches have been spaced out enough for South Africa to feel somewhat out of sorts. What is hurting their chances is the injury to their captain and to the Morkel brothers who are by far, South Africa’s brightest hopes for the future. Morne has still seen very little of the one day game but with Shaun Pollock now long gone from the picture, the onus falls on a player of his ability to make a name for himself. His side strain put him out in the first game. But it would not be surprising if he makes a quick recovery for the second match at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.
Albie has been virtually ruled out and only a miracle will see either JP Duminy or Vernon Philander lose their spot. It is an unfair scenario for both the men who have not had much to do till now and find themselves under substantial pressure as South Africa are in danger of letting a little bit of despondency creep in and shut the door on the series. South Africa’s loss in the final Test was as much as about Kevin Pietersen as it was about a drop in intensity, a considerable factor that after the heady success of the Test series. Now with two losses in the trot, in the fourth Test and in the first one day international, South Africa will have lost a bit of the momentum and also, something of their team bonding on the field.
But there is nothing like being down that gets the South Africa into emergency action mode. They did it before on this tour itself when they seemed all but done and dusted at Lord’s. Then they seemed to lose it all again before Graeme Smith gave South Africa reason to rejoice. Now South Africa are in need of one more inspiration, one final burst of energy, to keep them going to their destination.
That is easier said than done. England will look to enjoy the rare moment of resurgence. After all Pietersen’s appointment came at a difficult time and they will look to make the most of it. Men who were discarded as ‘has been’s have it going the most with the skipper’s confidence. Steve Harmsion is back and Paul Collinwood will be. England will have everything there is to show in terms of team line up, composition and strategy when they take the field. The question is – can South Africa say the same?