Keshav Maharaj hopes to exploit ‘bit of bounce’ in New York pitch for Proteas against Dutch

Keshav Maharaj said the Proteas coaches have ‘brought fresh ideas to the table’ at the T20 World Cup. Photo: AFP

Keshav Maharaj said the Proteas coaches have ‘brought fresh ideas to the table’ at the T20 World Cup. Photo: AFP

Published Jun 8, 2024


THE drop-in pitches at New York City’s Nassau County International Cricket Stadium have been on everyone’s lips at the T20 World Cup since they resulted in Sri Lanka’s 77 all out against South Africa earlier this week.

Mostly, the surface did not please the fans or Sri Lanka, who ended up on the losing side.

The wicket displayed uneven bounce and the sluggish nature of the outfield only made matters worse, leading to the International Cricket Council issuing a statement recognising the “inconsistency” of the surfaces thus far.

The broadcasters would have been in the same boat as well, as they depend on the entertainment factor of the T20 cricket – which is mostly a result of high scores and batter-friendly wickets to sell the games.

Despite all that, fast bowlers have been all smiles, along with spin bowlers, who have had great returns in New York City thus far.

“The seamers are licking their lips,” Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj told the media yesterday, ahead of today’s clash against The Netherlands (4.30pm SA time start).

“If you look in the last six months, there have been really high scores – so it’s nice to get some sort of conditions in your favour for a change.

“The wicket had a little bit of bounce for me. I just had to utilise the conditions and play my part in the bowling attack,” added Maharaj, who returned figures of 2-22 against Sri Lanka.

Conditions aside, South Africa started the World Cup on a positive note with a crushing six-wicket victory.

Maharaj said that there is a different mood in the camp that allows each player to perform to the best of their abilities.

“It was really exciting to get the first one out the way, winning with a clinical performance in some difficult conditions, but we found a way through it, which is very important,” he said.

“But I think the way we stuck to our processes during the game was really outstanding, and hopefully that continues into the next match against The Netherlands.

“There’s a different energy and mood in this camp, and you can see that translating on the field.

“Everyone is happy for one another’s successes. The enjoyment factor propels us to execute our plans and processes on the field.”

The Proteas take on The Netherlands today, a team vastly different to any other opponent that coach Rob Walter’s side will face at this World Cup.

Their coaching staff and players have either played for South Africa at some level, or at least are born in Mzansi.

— Proteas Men (@ProteasMenCSA) June 4, 2024

This is a factor that has certainly given The Netherlands the edge, and it shows in that they have beaten the Proteas in the last two World Cups (in Dharamsala and Adelaide).

Maharaj admitted that the South African knowledge in the Dutch team could be playing a factor in the result of the clashes between the two sides.

But the spinner told the media that the two losses are a thing of the past, and that they are past them.

“Definitely not (we don’t think about the losses),” said Maharaj.

“We’ve got a new regime of coaches – they’ve brought fresh ideas to the table, and the boys are raring to go.

“We come with a lot of confidence from the previous (game against Sri Lanka), but it is a new game – so, it’s about going back to the drawing board, repeating our processes and plans.

“And hopefully it’s enough to take on The Netherlands tomorrow.

“I think having some knowledge on the local players might have helped.

“They have a strong South African contingent within their players and support staff, so I’m sure they’re trying to pick their brains as much as possible.”