Benkenstein: Proteas playing well, but it’s a mental thing

CARDIFF – Dale Benkenstein, the Proteas batting coach, admits that the tension of the World Cup has played a pivotal role in the poor performances thus far.

South Africa’s batting unit have failed to fire individually, and collectively, in the first four matches.

Senior batsmen such as Hashim Amla and JP Duminy have yet to get out of the starting blocks, while youngsters such as Aiden Markram has looked like a deer in the headlights.

“The guys have been nervous, and it’s shown,” Benkenstein said. “At the moment, we are not firing. And that is something we have to get right.

“The frustrating thing is that the guys are in form. They’re playing well, but it’s a mental thing. They’re getting in and then getting out.”

In defence of the batsmen, they have not been given a consistent run to find some form here at the World Cup.

The batting line-up has been shuffled around in every game, with only captain Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen and Quinton de Kock having played all four matches.

Amla missed the second contest against Bangladesh due to concussion after being hit by a Jofra Archer bouncer in the opening game at The Oval.

This lack of confidence in their ability has filtered through to the pitch, with De Kock’s 68 against England remaining South Africa’s top score in the competition.

Contrast that with England and India, whose batsmen have hit the ground running, particularly after they have navigated through the tough new-ball conditions.

Benkenstein believes there is nothing technically he can do to remedy the situation, and is constantly offering mental advice to help the batsmen.

“Putting your finger on why they’re going out when they have is almost impossible,” Benkenstein said.

“I think they are all feeling really good, and we have to believe that a big score is around the corner.

“I feel like they’re batting well, but not doing enough. We’re a game away, a hundred away, a win away from getting that confidence.

“These guys have done it before. From a coaching perspective, we just want to remind them that they’re good players, and help them remember what it felt like when they were playing well.

“You don’t become a bad player in a week.”

South Africa don’t have much time to get their batting line-up into gear. Every game, starting with the Afghanistan encounter on Saturday here at Sophia Gardens, is a must-win clash.

It has to begin with the top-order, particularly the opening pair of De Kock and Amla.

Historically, the unit have laid the platform for South Africa to post formidable totals.

Not only are their runs invaluable, but it also serves to calm the nerves in their dressing-room.

And according to Benkenstein, it’s that calming influence that is most needed if the Proteas are to have more than just a passing interest for the remainder of this World Cup.

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