Proteas counted out as Bell tolls
THE Proteas will hold a team meeting to discuss their dismal batting, which has led to two successive defeats in the five-match one-day series.
Clear-the-air meetings are not uncommon for the Proteas, but this one takes on a little more urgency after they fell well short once again, beaten by four wickets yesterday.
England now lead the series 2-1 and have consolidated their position as the number one ODI team in the world.
"The series is still alive," said captain AB de Villiers. "We can still level it [at Nottingham on Wednesday] but not if we keep on batting at 60 or 70% of our ability. We need to sit down and discuss what we need to do."
The course of yesterday's match followed that of Friday's game at the Oval: an inadequate total, with no senior batsman taking control, and an easy, measured run-chase by England.
It would have been even easier, but for an enterprising 31 runs off 20 balls by Robin Peterson at the tail-end of the South African batting, which gave some respectability to the target.
Ian Bell starred once again with solid support from Jonathan Trott, who batted most of his innings with a hand injury inflicted by a near-150km/h delivery from Dale Steyn.
South Africa had rested Morne Morkel and brought back Ryan McLaren, but he made little impact, conceding 52 runs in nine overs. Lonwabo Tsotsobe disappointed again; the more so because his first five overs went for just 13 runs, but his next three for 23. He also had the anguish of seeing Peterson drop a simple catch at mid-off when Bell was on 65 and the score on 133.
When Trott finally fell, lbw to Dean Elgar, the pair had added 141, of which Trott contributed 48. He had been reduced to taking simple singles, pulling his injured hand off the bat handle at every opportunity. Bell made 88 before playing an extravagant pull to a rising delivery from Steyn.
Earlier, Peterson had come to the crease with South Africa labouring at 174 for five, in the 44th over. He announced his arrival by switch-hitting offspinner James Tredwell for a four and a six. He, at least, had learned something from the Oval match, picking up Jade Dernbach's slower ball to pull a four, followed by a paddle sweep over the 'keeper.
Tredwell, in for the rested Graeme Swann, spearheaded England's attack. He and left-arm spinner Samit Patel exacted prodigious turn, giving wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter three stumping victims - JP Duminy and De Villiers among them. De Villiers will be disappointed with his 39, as he was with his performance at the Oval, given the importance of showing leadership to the lower order batsmen who were left to do what they could - which was not enough.