CAPE TOWN – Such is the nature of the T20 circus that there is not much time to celebrate beating a powerful England white-ball line-up by just one run like the Proteas achieved in the first T20I.
Equally, there isn’t time for the visitors to mope about a game they were controlling until virtually the final three balls.
Sulking, though, isn’t the way of this England team. Captain Eoin Morgan prefers taking lessons from defeats, banking them for a later day, and then quickly moving on.
“Experiences like this, particularly with a World Cup around the corner, are just so valuable to the team. I think we learn more about both sides when they get put a little bit more pressure,” Morgan said after the one-run defeat.
This young South African T20I team, led by Quinton de Kock, would do well to learn from their English counterparts. There is no point in getting too carried away with victories if they are not actually in tournament showpieces, and equally defeats should not be treated like the entire world has come crashing down.
De Kock’s team will encounter stumbling blocks as they build towards the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia later this year. The composition of the team has certainly not been finalised yet with the side that did duty at Buffalo Park looking very unbalanced with seamer Beuran Hendricks coming in at No 8.
There are certainly places up for grabs as coach Mark Boucher tinkers with the line-up over the next 10 matches ahead of the T20 World Cup opener against India in Perth on October 24.
This competition within the squad is definitely bringing out the best in the bowling unit at the moment though with Buffalo Park hero Lungi Ngidi admitting that with fellow seam bowlers breathing down his neck it is playing a role in his performances.
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"We know that there are a lot of fast bowlers fighting for a spot so you’ve got to be on your A game," Ngidi said. "If you’re not quite there, someone else is going to come in and do the job you’re supposed to be doing. I don’t plan on letting anyone take my spot so I am just going to keep playing as best as I can."
Ngidi can be assured he will be in the line-up on Friday in his hometown when the second T20I gets underway at Kingsmead at 6pm. He was brilliant the death in East London, claiming three wickets for just 10 runs in his final two overs. More importantly, he held his nerve in a pressure situation – something South Africans have not always been capable of.
The young Proteas fast bowler credits the work he’s been doing with bowling coach Charl Langeveldt for helping him to remain calm even when the spotlights were at its brightest.
"He has had a massive impact in terms of the mental side," Ngidi said. "Having watched him and the way he used to bowl, he has given me a lot of confidence as a young player, knowing someone like that is now on my journey.
“He has made sure I back the skills that I am good at. Something like that on the back end, where maybe someone would say maybe a change of ball was needed or maybe a yorker, stick to what’s working and it worked out just well."
Full Proteas T20 squad
Quinton de Kock (capt & wk), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Pite van Biljon, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Jon-Jon Smuts, Beuran Hendricks, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Sisanda Magala, Bjorn Fortuin, Dale Steyn, Heinrich Klaasen.
Start: 6pm TV: SS2, Sabc3. Radio: Sabc Radio2000