Now they have a fresh challenge in adapting to the significant changes that have been made to the playing conditions for ODI cricket. That starts with the three-match series against Australia, the first contest of which is at SuperSport Park on Wednesday (2.30pm).
The five most significant changes are as follows:
- Two new balls will be used for alternative overs, meaning that each ball is used for 25 overs only. This does away with the compulsory ball change after 34 overs when only one ball was in use. (Clause 5.2)
- The batting and bowling power plays have to be taken between the 16th and 40th overs. (Clause 41.2.5)
- No runners are allowed for the batsmen in the event of injury, illness or any other cause. (Clause 2.1). If a batsman is unable to run between wickets he has to retire and be replaced by a colleague. This has already happened in an ODI between the West Indies and Bangladesh.
- A batsman can be given out ‘obstructing the field’ if he significantly changes the angle of his run between wickets to block the throwing line of a fielder at the stumps. (Clause 37)
- A bowler can run out a batsman who takes unfair advantage in setting off for a run before the ball has been delivered. (Clause 42.11). Previously a batsman could set off for a run as soon as the bowler’s back foot had landed.
These changes came into effect from October 1 and have already been used in the series between the West Indies and Bangladesh and between India and England.
The biggest tactical change obviously affects the condition of the ball and the newer balls will hamper the ability of seamers to obtain reverse swing and may also make spin bowlers less effective. On the positive side conventional swing may last a bit longer. It was a big factor in India bowling England out cheaply on Monday.
Proteas captain Hashim Amla commented: “I think the two new balls will have a huge effect, as well as the changes to the power plays. We have thought about it and I think the team is diverse enough to handle all conditions.
“The bowlers fortunately have been doing well recently so I think they can bowl in any part of the innings whether it is in a power play or in general play.
“It is going to be very exciting to see how the use of two balls works out. On a good wicket it may be a little tougher for the bowlers, but by the same token if it is swinging it might be a bit more challenging for the batters.”
To date most fielding sides have taken the bowling power play as soon as it has become available which means that it is being taken in the 16th over rather than in the 11th over which was previously allowed.
The Proteas can join Australia at the top of the ICC ODI rankings if they clean sweep the three-match series. They would be level on points but would remain below them when rankings are calculated to the third decimal point.