Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
2 minute read
3 Nov 2021
5:33 pm

Proteas bowlers must keep England guessing – Neil McKenzie

Ken Borland

"It’s important to strike up front and we must use our variations," says McKenzie.

Dwaine Pretorius has done well for South Africa with the ball at the death. Picture: Getty Images

How do South Africa get the better of England’s batting juggernaut on Saturday in their vital T20 World Cup match in Sharjah? Keep the batsmen guessing, says former Proteas star Neil McKenzie, who is also CSA’s high performance batting lead coach.

McKenzie admitted that hopes of victory, which will probably ensure a semi-final place for the Proteas, would rely more on their bowlers than their batsmen, but he expressed the confidence that they are capable of backing up the efforts of their great attack.

England have a powerful batting line-up and their preferred mode of operating is to go extremely hard from the start.

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“Against England, it’s important to strike up front and we must use our variations – Keshav Maharaj bowling to the right-handers and taking the ball away from them, Tabraiz Shamsi comes into his own against the left-handers, and our fast bowlers are going really well,” McKenzie said on Wednesday.

“If there’s any assistance for the seamers then our pacemen will exploit that, and Dwaine Pretorius has been a revelation at the death.

“We know what England’s blueprint is, but they did change it against Sri Lanka. When they were 47/3 after the first 10 overs, they definitely modified their play.

“But their middle-order has not really been tested and I think there might be a few chinks in the armour there.”

While the former middle-order stalwart admitted to some compassion for the batsmen, who were having it tough in general in the United Arab Emirates, he said it was soft dismissals against spin that were concerning.

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“They’re playing in three different venues, each of which plays differently, so it is hard and it has been a difficult tournament for the batsmen,” McKenzie said.

“There’s been enough in the pitches, and if bowlers are putting the ball into the wicket then some skid and some are stopping. It’s not as if it’s spinning all the time, which is actually the worst-case scenario.

“But there have been some soft dismissals to spin, especially finger-spinners. For a right-hander to get out to Glenn Maxwell is criminal. If you’re going for the boundary or genuinely get deceived by Adil Rashid then fine, but don’t get out to a defensive push down the ground.

“The Proteas need to eliminate those soft dismissals. You can’t afford getting out when you’re trying to knock the ball for one.”