Cricket: `I can bowl better' says Donald

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The Independent Online
THERE IS bad news for England following their comprehensive defeat by South Africa at the Wanderers at the weekend: Hansie Cronje has identified areas of improvement in his side and Allan Donald is not yet 100 per cent happy with the way he is bowling.

Donald, named man of the match in the first Test, and the irrepressible Shaun Pollock shared 19 of the 20 wickets to fall and Cronje conceded that there was a lack of depth in the South African attack. "I felt that there were times when Allan and Shaun weren't bowling that we didn't create enough pressure. Maybe that's one area where we can improve," Cronje said.

"From a batting point of view I was exceptionally happy with the way the guys played. Even though Jacques [Kallis] and Gary [Kirsten] didn't get a lot of runs, they still had to play through those difficult periods and get the bowlers tired and the ball soft. And Herschelle Gibbs and Daryll Cullinan played extremely well."

Donald, who went into the match with concerns about his form and fitness after an indifferent display against Zimbabwe earlier this month, when he also strained a side muscle, believed there was room for improvement in his bowling despite match figures of 11 for 127.

"Nobody could have wished for better conditions to bowl on the first morning, but you still have to get a high percentage of balls in the right place and that's what Shaun and I did. It did swing, it was very humid, and we bowled them out for 122," Donald said. "However, I'm not entirely happy with my form. I'm happy with my performance, but not with the way I'm bowling. I suppose I should settle for 11 wickets in a game, but I still feel I can improve as the series goes on and I hope I will."

Donald is now just 21 wickets away from achieving the 300 mark in Test cricket and although there remain worries over his fitness few would bet against him becoming the 14th man to reach the milestone.

"At the age of 33, I suppose I am conscious of the fact that fitness can be a problem. I need to spend a bit more time these days getting myself stronger. With four Tests to go, I'll be happy if I can still run in at the end of it," Donald said. "I try not to think about the 300-wicket milestone. If it happens this summer, that will be great. But I prefer instead to concentrate on one match at a time."

The value of Donald to South Africa was aptly summed up by Cronje, who was lavish in his praise for his bowler. "I've seen Allan bowl better than he did in this match, but to bounce back from where he was two weeks ago was brilliant. It was the biggest turn-around in his career. There's only one clause in my contract with Free State and it says, where Allan goes, I go."

Fletcher's tuning, page 28