Learning to construct a 50-over innings was Tristan Stubbs' chief takeaway from South Africa A's series victory over Sri Lanka A, which was completed with a five-wicket win in Kandy. Stubbs was South Africa A's highest run-scorer, and the only one to record two half-centuries, and hopes the experience will put him in good stead to add to his one ODI cap.
"It's closer to first-class cricket where you've got to bat time," Stubbs told ESPNcricinfo shortly after scoring a match-winning 58 not out. "I haven't played a lot of 50-over cricket but in this format, you absorb pressure and then apply pressure. T20 cricket you have to make a play almost every ball but in 50-over cricket and first-class cricket you can just bat time and that's what I have really enjoyed doing."
Since starting his career three years ago, Stubbs has played 55 T20s, more than double his 21 List A matches, to go with 10 first-class games. His reputation as a big-hitter has seen him picked for the Manchester Originals in the Hundred, and Mumbai Indians at the IPL, although he has only played four matches, two in each of the last two seasons. He went straight from the IPL to Sri Lanka, keen to get game time after last turning out more than a month ago, on May 6.
"It [the IPL] was an awesome tournament to be a part of, whether you are playing or not. And Mumbai made the semi-finals so I got to experience a semi-final with 100,000 people which was pretty cool," he said. "But I hadn't played in a couple of months so getting some game time now is good. It's been cool to spend some time in the middle and bat again."
"I am trying not to think about it. I am just trying to take every game as it comes and just enjoy playing" Tristan Stubbs on making the ODI World Cup squad
Especially in unfamiliar conditions. This was Stubbs' first visit to Sri Lanka and though he has been to India three times, he found that the surfaces were different and asked more questions of his game. "It doesn't bounce as much [as home] and the ball turns a bit more but the conditions have changed between each game," he said. "The pitch we played on today got more and more dry and it was turning a lot more. But in the second game the ball was seaming around a lot. It's a nice challenge."
In both matches, Stubbs scored half-centuries, first taking South Africa A from 20 for 4 to 153 for 8, albeit in a losing cause, and then ensuring they recovered from 27 for 2 in the fifth over to successfully chase 173. In both cases, Stubbs saw an opportunity to work on pacing his innings and getting the balance between attack and defence right. "We were in trouble early on. In the second game, it tested my defence of seam and today it was spinning," he said. "And you learn it's all right to block a good ball in the longer game. It's not ideal, but sometimes it's required."
With his development of a more all-round game in subcontinental batting conditions, does Stubbs hope he is making a case for consideration for this year's World Cup? "I am trying not to think about it," he said. "I am just trying to take every game as it comes and just enjoy playing. Today, I could help the team get over the line. We have a pretty strong side so that always helps."
South Africa A will now play unofficial Tests under the tutelage of national Test coach Shukri Conrad to complete their winter program.