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Kagiso Rabada needs to ‘find a different way’ to channel emotion, suggests Faf du Plessis

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Faf du Plessis has admitted his “frustration” at Kagiso Rabada’s ban for the Wanderers Test and encouraged his fast bowler to “find a different way” to show his emotion on the field.

Rabada was given one demerit point for his celebration after dismissing England’s captain Joe Root on the first day of the Port Elizabeth Test, taking his tally over the past 24 months to four and landing him with an automatic one-match ban which he will serve in the fourth Test in Johannesburg.

South Africa coach Mark Boucher said after the news of the ban that he hoped the ICC “don’t take the emotion out of the game” with overly strict sanctions, and du Plessis reiterated that he wanted Rabada to “show that South African spirit” on the pitch.

ALSO READ: Wanderers could be my last home Test, admits du Plessis

“You need things to go in your favour as a team when you are fighting every day,” du Plessis said. “Every session is pressure. You need stuff to go for you.

“The best KG is when he is that pumped up. I’ve seen it in his career – when he is fired up, he bowls better. He is a fantastic bowler when he is in the fight with the batter, when he is in the batter’s face and he has got a competition and it’s you against me. Then, you see KG at his best.

“We saw that. It was a big wicket for us. Joe Root is a fantastic player and to get him out, you could see how much it meant to KG.

“That’s the problem now. We ask him to show that emotion and show he wants to lead the attack, he wants to fight and show that South African spirit and then it gets taken away from him from by celebrating.”

Root, for his part, refused to be drawn on Rabada’s ban, though admitted it represented a “bonus” that South Africa would be missing “a world-class player”.

“If I say anything on this it’s going to get someone into trouble, so I am going to keep my mouth shut,” Root said.

“I don’t have any issue. He was obviously quite close to me. The decision was made that he was out of order. My concern was making sure I didn’t react. Thankfully I held my tongue, waited patiently until he’d finished and walked off.

“Most important for us as a team is that we respect decisions made on the field and we don’t put ourselves in a position where, as an England team, guys are missing games because of celebrations or send-offs. It’s obviously a bonus – he’s a world-class player. We’ll have to see what side they come up with and pay them the respect they deserve.”

Rabada’s ban is a major blow for South Africa ahead of the final Test. He is currently the leading wicket-taker in the series, with 14 in five innings, and has been du Plessis’ go-to man when he has needed to break a partnership in this series.

He has also been the only black African player in the side throughout the series, meaning his absence will further the pressure on the side to meet their transformation targets at the Wanderers. Temba Bavuma, Andile Phehlukwayo (black African), Keegan Petersen and Beuran Hendricks (coloured) are not playing the round of domestic matches that started today and are all in contention for selection.

“It’s something that’s in the rules of the ICC – you are not allowed to be close or in the vicinity of the batter or whatever the rule is,” said du Plessis. “That’s unfortunate because now we go into a seriously important Test match without our best bowler and one more experienced player out of the team.

“In Test cricket you need experience, and to lose experience in KG makes it tough for me, it makes it tough for the team. I won’t say he has let the team down because we want to see that, it’s just he needs to find a different way to stick more within the rules of the game. One metre further away from the batter, then it’s possibly OK so draw a line on the pitch for him to stay away from.”



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Was confident Jess Jonassen ‘would get the job done’ – Meg Lanning

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Meg Lanning had “full confidence” in Jess Jonassen when she handed the ball over to the left-arm spinner at the back-end of India’s chase. Jonassen took 5 for 12 to trigger a collapse that saw seven wickets go down for 29 runs – she dismissed Harmanpreet Kaur the over after Megan Schutt had sent back Smriti Mandhana and put India’s chase of 156 in a tailspin after they had reached 115 for 3 in the 15th over.

“She’s been in fine form bowling for a long time now. For a spinner to be able to bowl the last three overs from one end in a T20 chase is a very good effort. You don’t see that often, but I had full confidence she would be able to get the job done,” Lanning said. “She is very calm and has really good skills and she can bowl at any point in the innings. It’s nice to see her really confident now. She is an important part of the team. Hopefully she can continue her form going forward.”

All five of Jonassen’s wickets came in her second spell, in the last six overs of India’s innings, during which they lost a wicket in every over but the 19th. Until then, Mandhana and Kaur had set India up nicely with a 50-run stand.

“We talk a lot about trying to stay in the game. T20 cricket can turn very quickly. We knew if we could get a wicket, break that partnership quickly, we could potentially get a bit of momentum back. Mandhana batted brilliantly; sort of hard to slow it down, but once we got that wicket, we were able to turn the screws and put them under pressure, so it’s a good lesson in staying in the game and making sure you just stick it out and hope it will turn your way,” Lanning said.

“We have been put to the test every game we have played [by the] two world-class sides, who are going to do very well in the World Cup coming up. Both with the bat and ball, we feel like we have improved over the tournament”

Meg Lanning

In their previous meeting, Jonassen had opened the bowling and bowled just one over for 11. Sixteen-year-old Shafali Verma had been particularly severe on spinners that day, and Lanning explained that was one of the reasons Australia had to turn to pace in the final.

“In the first game, Verma was taking on the spinners a fair bit, so we went to pace a little bit. The wicket today was a bit up and down, so we used a bit more pace,” Lanning said. “In that round [league-stage] game against India, I could have perhaps brought [Jonassen] on a little bit early, and that’s what I looked at in review [of that match]. It’s certainly not a game plan; it’s just a gut feeling but she’s shown she can do the job at any point in the match.”

This come-from-behind win has significance beyond just a series title. It comes shortly after the Saturday match during which India had made easy work of a stiff target of 174 and put Australia on the verge of being knocked out from the series. More importantly, it comes less than two weeks before the T20 World Cup, which will start later this month. Lanning acknowledged that winning a tough series like this one was perfect ahead of the big tournament.

“It’s been a brilliant series for us,” she said. “We have been put to the test every game we have played [by the] two world-class sides, who are going to do very well in the World Cup coming up. Both with the bat and ball, we feel like we have improved over the tournament.

“We still feel probably there are a few areas to do that again. I will take this tournament any day getting into the World Cup, to be put under the pump and having to respond to that is a really good thing for this team and we will take a lot of confidence out of the win today.”



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‘I don’t plan on letting anyone take my spot’ – Lungi Ngidi

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Lungi Ngidi knows a thing or two about making a comeback. In his short international career, which has just turned two years old, he has already had to recover from a stress fracture, a side strain and a slew of hamstring niggles, the latest of which kept him out of this summer’s Test series against England. He returned for the white-ball matches and he has now shown an ability to come back, on the field.

On Sunday, in the Pink ODI at the Wanderers, he dragged South Africa from a certain defeat to tense one with a final spell of 3 for 11 in four overs, after his first five overs had cost 52 runs. On Wednesday, in the first T20I at Buffalo Park, he turned England’s chase from flying to floundering with a death-bowling spell off 3 for 10 in two overs, after an opening spell of 0 for 20, and has proven his ability to play the big moments.

“I guess it’s a mental thing, to be able to finish off well in situations that require you to,” Ngidi said afterwards “It takes a lot out of your mental side. Physically, obviously I am trying as best as I can to get back to the pace that I was at and to hit the areas that I am known for hitting. But at the moment, it’s just trying to keep that confidence going of doing my job at the back end and closing out very well.”

Though Ngidi made his name for bowling fast, he demonstrated a different quality at the death in East London. On a slow pitch, Ngidi’s offcutter foxed Ben Stokes into fetching a wide ball and slapping it to long-on in the 18th over, with England 26 runs away from victory and 14 balls remaining. Top-scorer Jason Roy had been dismissed by a Beuran Hendricks slower ball three overs before that, while Dale Steyn, playing for the national side for the first time in 11 months, had also taken pace off the ball earlier to demonstrate the value of skill, rather than speed, in the shortest format.

The South African attack’s attention to developing the more nuanced areas of their game has been notable under the coaching of Charl Langeveldt, who was with the team under Russell Domingo and was headhunted from his role in Bangladesh to return in the Mark Boucher era. Ngidi credited Langeveldt with giving him the belief to bowl a variety of different deliveries and trust that the results can be effective.

“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.”

ALSO READ: ‘Experiences like this are so valuable’ – Eoin Morgan

The yorker did make an appearance in Ngidi’s final over, when he bowled Moeen Ali with the penultimate ball of the match, with England still needing three runs for victory. That wicket, and the run-out off the last delivery meant that Ngidi successfully defended seven off the final over, which is not often heard of in T20 cricket. But in East London, Ngidi knew it was possible. “The game speeds up a lot at the back end here so even 10 runs can seem like a lot,” he said.

So can 178, a score that would be considered gettable in most T20 matches. While Ngidi will receive the bulk of the plaudits for restricting England to less than that, South Africa’s attack as a whole will be thrilled with the collapse they forced on an opposition that bats deep. England lost 7 for 44 in 5.4 overs as Tabraiz Shamsi, who went wicketless and Hendricks, who was only brought on to bowl in the 15th over, started the squeeze before Ngidi finished off.

With Andile Phehlukwayo and Steyn also among the wickets, Kagiso Rabada resting from this series and Sisanda Magala waiting in the wings, pending fitness, all that leaves South Africa with some healthy competition in the pace department, and Ngidi wants to make sure he stays ahead of the chasing pack. “We know that there are a lot of fast bowlers fighting for a spot so you’ve got to be on your A game,” he 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.”



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‘Experiences like this are so valuable’ – Eoin Morgan takes positives ahead of T20 World Cup

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Eoin Morgan, England’s captain, backed his team to learn quickly and come back stronger after a thrilling one-run defeat in the first T20I, but added that the pressure to which his players had been exposed was a priceless experience in the final countdown to the T20 World Cup in October.

After an erratic display with the ball, in which South Africa racked up 105 runs in the first ten overs before being restricted to 177 for 8, it was England’s high-octane batting that fell apart in the closing stages, as Morgan’s own dismissal for 52 in the penultimate over allowed Lungi Ngidi to power his side over the line with a brilliant death over that yielded three wickets and just five runs.

And while Morgan was disappointed with England’s failure to get over the line, he was delighted to have been left with so much to digest, with just nine more opportunities for fine-tuning before until the T20 World Cup gets underway in Australia.

“It was an outstanding game of cricket,” Morgan said in the post-match presentations. “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,” he added. “Today was a fine example of that. Both teams gave it absolutely everything and left everything on the field, but in all honesty, I thought in all three departments today we could make up more than that.”

Speaking on Sky Sports, Morgan went into greater detail. “We were always in a commanding position, and we never really looked flustered until Ngidi came on in the 18th over and then turned the game on its head,” he said. “Even in a position of needing seven off the last over, with new guys coming in, we expected to win that game, but it’s a great game to play in because you get a feel for where guys are at, what skill level they can produce, and how their temperament is. So in terms of actually improving [our team], I think it’s great for us.”

Whereas England went into the 50-over World Cup as a battle-hardened outfit that had risen to No.1 in the world over the course of four years of success, the T20 World Cup offers fewer opportunities for such team development due to the dearth of bilateral T20Is. Nevertheless, Morgan pointed out that the core of the squad still remembered the sickening circumstances of their final-over loss in Kolkata in the 2016 event, and he backed the class of 2020 to arrive in Australia well placed to go one better.

“In any given any circumstance, you’ve got to have the mindset of trying to win the game and trying to be as effective as you can,” he said. “You can say [this defeat] doesn’t really matter, but I actually think it does, because when you put in performances, it gives you a huge amount of confidence, and on the back of that confidence you win games of cricket.

ALSO READ: Ngidi holds nerve as England collapse to one-run defeat

“Looking back on the 2016 T20 World Cup, we were beaten in the final in a dramatic fashion, but we took a lot of confidence from that tournament because we went into it as a bit of an afterthought, and learnt as much as we could. This time around, [if we learn these lessons], we’ll be in a better position to counter anything that happens.”

On this latest occasion, Morgan himself seemed to have broken the back of the run-chase in East London with a flurry of two fours and a six to bring the requirement down to a run a ball. But he holed out to deep midwicket off the final ball of the 19th over to give South Africa an opening.

“With all the games I’ve played and the experience I have, I would have liked to seen it through and I didn’t manage to do that,” he said. “But the more games I play, the more I back myself to be there at the end. I’ll still continue with the method that I play and hopefully contribute to some more wins.

“But for the last few years I’ve been really enjoying my cricket, and the majority of that is down to the guys I play with,” he added. “They are a great bunch of guys, and we’re learning a huge amount from each other. The backroom staff contributes huge amounts, they are always provoking thoughts and are very inquisitive, so it’s been thoroughly enjoyable.

“One of the big things in our change room is that we learn quite quickly from each other,” he added. “We’re very open and there’s no massive egos around. It’s okay for guys to say ‘I struggled today, what did you look to do, and how were you effective? Teach me.’

“There will be a bit of a look back at the footage in the next 24 hours, but full credit to South Africa, they clawed their way back into a game that I thought we should have easily won, but we didn’t, so fair play. We’re going to have to try and negate Ngidi’s slower ball because it was very effective on this wicket.”

Morgan confirmed that England would continue to play their strongest available XI for the remainder of the series – unlike the mix-and-match approach they took to the ODIs – as they continue to fine-tune their plans before October.

“We want guys to get absolute clarity in their positions, particularly from one to seven,” he said. “In the middle, at the end, in the Powerplay, whatever the circumstance might be … we want guys to feel as comfortable as they can. And to be exposed a little bit as well.”



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