Gerald Coetzee (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE / AFP)
At the Wanderers
- Young Gerald Coetzee ended a successful day by also experiencing his first pesky last-wicket stand with the Proteas.
- The alliance between Jason Holder and Gudakesh Motie meant the West Indies limited the hosts’ lead to 69 when it should’ve been significantly bigger.
- But Coetzee says it’s not the first or last time it will happen and that he himself will be better prepped in future to break such stands earlier.
Much might’ve gone right over the past week or so for Gerald Coetzee after his introduction to Test cricket, but the rookie quick also had to contend with the “pain’ of the classic pesky last-wicket stand.
RECAP | SA v West Indies, Day 2
Indeed, a 58-run alliance between a classy Jason Holder (81*) and the eminently competent Gudakesh Motie meant that the Proteas, who were eyeing a substantial lead in the second Test against the West Indies here, would only walk out to bat a second time with an advantage of 69.
Yet while senior players like the spin twins of Keshav Maharaj and Simon Harmer were grappling – along with skipper Temba Bavuma – how to dislodge the pair, the 22-year-old Coetzee was absorbing all the lessons … and even kept a lid on things.
“Yes, it was very valuable experience,” said the genial, articulate quick, who was South Africa’s most successful bowler on the day with career-best figures of 3/41.
“It’s definitely not the last time it will happen. Jason batted very well, credit to him.”
Coetzee though isn’t totally in denial about the sense of disappointment that hung over the attack once they eventually did dismiss the Windies.
READ | Holder rearguard keeps Windies in contest as Proteas struggle to wrap up tail
“That last partnership, if you ask any cricketer, if it goes past 50, its tough to deal with it,” he said.
“Luckily we still have a good lead, 70 runs is great. It’s better than conceding a lead. It was tough, but it was a good experience. In general, in such a situation, you want to try and get the main batter off strike and bowl as many as possible to the tailender. He held his ground well and Jason took the game forward. “
There was confusion over Bavuma’s reluctance to employ Kagiso Rabada during that period.
He had been the Proteas’ most menacing bowling option throughout the day – ending with 2/19 in 12 overs – which prompted Holder to question whether Rabada was carrying a niggle.
Coetzee allayed any fears.
“KG’s good. We (fast bowlers) all have a bit of stiffness. You get it treated before it becomes something serious and get back on the field. He’s fine.”
The majority of the quick’s lessons though weren’t just confined to that frustrating last period.
Coetzee’s wicket of Jermaine Blackwood was deserved, a beauty that held its line and was edged, but he also learnt that some deliveries bring you more reward than what would probably be considered fair.
His dismissal of Raymon Reifer at short-leg came off a leg glance that was probably only edged due to his pace, while Kemar Roach’s calypso style cut was plainly irresponsible despite the ball itself not being particularly threatening.
But, to his credit, Coetzee isn’t going to apologetic about freebies.
In fact, it’s already taught him that you make your own luck.
“What you learn is you still want to bowl the best ball possible. If you bowl one that isn’t your best but still get a wicket, it’s always a bonus,” said Coetzee.
“It does happen and it can happen at any moment because there is pressure over a long time. Suddenly there’s a release shot, which might go to the boundary but might also lead to a wicket because he hasn’t received a bad ball in a while.
“However, at this level, the more you don’t ‘miss’, the better you are. If you look at the best bowlers in the world, they can do the same thing over and over. That’s what we all strive for.”