CRICKET NEWS - “This is not the standard of fielding you are used to from a South African team,” coach Mark Boucher admitted on Thursday before explaining his frustration over the performance in that crucial department ahead of the fourth and final T20 against Pakistan at Centurion on Friday.
The Proteas have to win on Friday to level the series, but it has been an uphill struggle for a bowling attack shorn of its first-choice fast bowlers and not being particularly well-backed in the field.
It was particularly apparent in the third T20 when Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan survived a few half-chances before putting the bowling to the sword as Pakistan chased down 204 with two overs to spare.
“We are pushing the guys so hard in training and the frustration is that they are brilliant then, taking unbelievable catches and the intensity is great. But then in the last game from the second over already we gave away soft runs. We need the guys to stand up in the field and we have been asking the players why the energy and intensity is not there always?
“It’s almost like they take a step back when they get into a match and this is not the standard of fielding you are used to from a South African team. We need to change that, it is something we are addressing and fielding is largely about attitude. Maybe the players are lacking confidence to bring it on match day?” Boucher mused on Thursday.
South Africa also need to be much better under pressure than they were in the third T20, which was as one-sided as the Proteas’ big win in the second match at the Wanderers.
“Under pressure, the guys have not responded the way we know they can. They’re not used to being attacked like that at this level, they got rattled and we did not stick to the plan, we ended up chasing the ball a bit. We’ve gone from the absolute high three days ago to the last game, that’s T20 cricket. We just looked completely rattled under pressure and it was a bad day.
“But three days ago we were very good and that shows things can change quickly in T20 cricket, as long as the energy is right. So we need to come with the right attitude and intensity, yes we have to execute our skills as well, but in our meetings all morning with the players, I got the sense that they know they were not up to scratch and they really want to put that right,” Boucher said.