SA vs England – a Test Series preview

4 07 2012

Its the biggie. South Africa take on England in a titanic battle between the two premier Test sides of the moment. I’m not sure if its possible for a cricket fan not to be excited!

The SA team are currently in Switzerland at a “bonding camp” after which they’ll arrive in Somerset for their first of two warm-up games. I don’t see why the team couldn’t bond around some more warm up cricket matches rather than chocolate factories but I guess I’ll have to suck it up. Imran Tahir was allowed to play for SA A so as to get some cricket (and hopefully confidence) under the belt. Fair call given his lack of consistency at the best of times.

 

SA Test Squad:
Graeme Smith (c)
Alviro Petersen
Hashim Amla
Jacques Kallis
AB de Villiers (vc)
JP Duminy
Jacques Rudolph
Mark Boucher (wk)
Vernon Philander
Dale Steyn
Morne Morkel
Lonwabo Tsotsobe
Marchant de Lange
Imran Tahir
Robin Peterson

Squads courtesy of Cricinfo

Key Matchups:

Steyn vs Cook

The world’s best Test bowler against the toughest opening batsman-shaped nut in Test Cricket should make for a tantalising duel. Vernon Philander has been the form pacer for the Proteas in their past few series but expect the quality of Dale to shine through in this series.

Anderson vs Smith

Jimmy has been nigh on unstoppable on home territory and will see Smith’s weakness against the swinging ball as a way to get England off to a good start each innings. However, Graeme is one tough nut and loves leading from the front – expect him to try to impose himself early.

Swann vs the SA middle order

South African teams are known to struggle against spin and this outfit is no exception. Rangana Herath was the only bowler that managed to strike genuine fear into the hearts of the SA batting line up when SL toured SA. The outspoken Swann will be eager to have a crack at the SA spin-facing frailties.

 

All in all, its going to be one heck of a series. I’ll be providing updates here so tune in!

I leave you with two questions:

1) What is your prediction for the Test series result?

2) Which player do you back to be player of the series?





ODI Tri-Series Preview: SA vs Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe

7 06 2012

South African cricket fans have been dealt a cruel lesson in patience over the past few months. The much-awaited South Africa vs England series has seemed to loom for years, yet it is still over a month until the first warm-up match will be played. In the interim Protea fans will have to make do with a far less appetising triangular series involving the two minnows of Test cricket – Zimbabwe and Bangladesh (although many stronger Test nations have been trying their best to out-minnow them recently).
I mean no disrespect to the two nations when I say that they are highly unlikely to prove a massive challenge for the Proteas. My biggest worry as a Protea fan is that our team will struggle to adjust to “the next level” when we reach England after getting used to maintaining a “first-gear” approach in the triangular. 
On the flip-side, this series will help the development of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh’s national teams immensly. The experience they will receive is experience they desperately need in their attempts to develop into “genuine” Test outfits. Bangladesh, in particular, have heaps of high-quality youngsters in major need of some high-quality Test opposition so that they can develop as cricketers.
Players to watch:

South Africa: I sincerely hope to see Colin Ingram  be given another opportunity to show his mettle. The stylish left-hander is a limited-overs genius and needs gametime in the green and gold in order to gain the confidence on which he thrives in the SA domestic scene.

Bangladesh: Batsman, Bowler, Leader – Shakib Al Hasan does it all. One team has not relied on one player the way Bangladesh do since Brian Lara retired from international cricket, and the Bangladeshi outfit will be looking to him to be the rock around which they build an attempt to upset South Africa. He’ll be keen to dominate the Zimbabwe batsmen and bowlers, too.
Zimbabwe: Lanky pace bowler Shingurai Masakadzashowed great promise when Zimbabwe last toured South Africa and he’ll be looking to continue this good run this series. He has good pace and hits the deck hard – good traits for a pace bowler to have. He has the potential to eclipse the likes of Henry Olonga in this writers humble opinion, and this series would be a good place to start.




So near, but yet so far

22 01 2012

South African cricketer Graeme Smith.

A quality innings from this man{Image via Wikipedia}

Sri Lanka pulled off a great escape that even Houdini would have placed on his “impressive” list.* They nearly pulled off what would have been an ironic choke against the masters of the trade, South Africa.

From a South African point of view, it was great to see Graeme Smith take a step back to devastating form. A century was well needed from a sheer ‘runs under belt’ aspect, but the way in which he was middling the ball put hope into me like no other innings of his has of late.

AB was his awesome ODI self and although I don’t rate him highly as a Test batsman, I feel that he is quite possibly the best ODI batsman in the world. His captaincy has so far proven to be top notch, and I completely admit that I was wrong in suspecting him of being anything less. His decision to give Robbie P the white ball for the final over was inspired (although I don’t feel that Robbie should have been in the team in the first place).

The Sri-Lankans must have batted well although I admittedly didn’t catch much of it due to another engagement. I saw the end, though, and the near-choke made me excited – had SA taken their tag by the scruff of the neck and thrown it into a den of Sri-Lankan lions? The answer was no – our biceps couldn’t quite handle the throw. The fact that we did as well as we did at the end is a positive, though.





A New Leaf?

18 01 2012

The Proteas have been inconsistent against Sri Lanka recently, but there has been one major plus to come from this series – AB de Villiers keeping. His captaincy has been a minty breath of fresh air to a side that has long been stereotyped as “predictable” and “boring”.

I’ll admit, initially I was very disappointed with the election of AB over Hashim Amla. I felt that Hashim was a thinker whereas AB would just be a friendly face. However, he has been very inventive with his field-placings and bowling changes – something that has always been lacking in recent South African captains.

Faf du Plessis showed another trait that South Africans have been struggling with – a calm head in a pressure situation. South Africa are famous for throwing matches away, but Faf did quite the opposite when he took a bad start by the top order and turned it around. The eventual Duckworth Lewis victory can be attributed to his ugly yet clever batting. Add to this that South Africa took a strong Sri-Lankan batting start and pulled themselves back into the game makes me wonder: Have South Africa developed a gutsy edge to their armour?

Its too early to say, in my opinion, but one thing I can say is that this series has not been a waste of time. We have found a gem of a captain and a gutsy middle-order batsman – quite a good ‘easy series’ at the office!

Meanwhile, Pakistan look ahead in their match against England, but England won’t mind how today went. All of the English bowlers with the exception of Chris Tremlett got among the wickets which is always good to see at the beginning of a series.





Collapse

12 01 2012

A freak event occurred yesterday. Massive, in fact. Sri Lanka collapsed for just 43 runs, chasing South Africa’s total of 301. Words cannot describe the events that took place in that innings. Credit must go to the SA bowlers for bowling well, though. Lopsy looked like a new bowler, nipping the ball into the right handers and getting lots of bounce.

King Kallis displayed his tremendous class yet again before being run out. Hashim Amla was dominant as usual, and AB smashed the bowlers around the park with ease.

The Sri-Lankan bowlers, with the exception of Slinger Malinga, just put the ball on the pitch and hoped for the best. The batsmen… well there’s not much to say, is there?

Onwards to East London, then, where South Africa will hope to maintain their dominance. Sri Lanka will look to bounce back, and bounce back they should, if only for their fans.





Sledging showdown

10 01 2012

The treaty between Australia and India has been discarded with the violence of a rabid lion. After accusing the Indian team of being fragile mentally, Brad Haddin was told by Zaheer Khan that his keeping was fragile and that he should focus on that. The best, although well hidden, comment came from Peter Siddle, however. He was plagued with questions about the war of words at a press conference and handled them diplomatically before, according to Cricinfo, slipping in: “Brad’s a very competitive cricketer. He does like to play it hard and fair. Me and Jimmy like to bowl bouncers, stuff like that.” Suddenly being excluded from the Test team sounds sweeter to Suresh Raina!

In other news, SA take on SL in an interesting ODI series starting tomorrow. With Malinga and Kulasekara into the lineup, SL are a much scarier prospect in the middle version of the game and SA will have to be at their best. England look to crush a resurgent Pakistan with a Bresnan-less attack. If any English arrogance leads to sloppiness, Pakistan will jump at the opportunity. Some great cricket will be on display in the coming weeks, and that’s always good news for a cricket fan!





Inconsistency Is Our Speciality

6 01 2012

English: Sachin Tendulkar at Adelaide Oval

SRT: The ultimate showman! {Image via Wikipedia}

Think of a flower. This particular flower is beautiful – some days. Other days it wilts with no apparent reason. It has a green stem, but people argue as to whether much of the liquids inside of this stem are green or not, as different days of testing yield different results. This flower has reputation for being choked when with other flowers and it may just collapse in a heap on the ground, allowing the other flower to thrive. Which flower are you thinking of? Yes, the Protea.

The Proteas cruised to victory in the opening test – as everyone rightly expected they would – before being thrashed in the Second Test. Surprised and annoyed, fans started viciously calling for players to be dropped. Enter the Third Test, and worried fans turned on their televisions at ten o’clock on day 1 before running behind their couch and watching from that security, fearful of what they might discover. As the next few days went on, their fear turned to caution, their caution turned to hope, their hope turned to satisfaction and their satisfaction turned to delight.

South Africa look way out in front as we head into the fourth day, and most would expect them to wrap the match up today – possibly before lunch. The optimists will call the match a success, the realists will call it satisfactory, and the pessimists will say that it was the a third of the minimum requirement for the series, and that we only achieved 67% of our goals. I will say that it is a fascinating display of inconsistency.

Jacques Kallis put his heart into maintaining an inconsistent style of play, scoring a pair in the Second Test before scoring a double century, his highest score, in the Third.

Meanwhile, Michael unselfishly sacrificed a shot at the world record Individual Test Score to give Australia the best chance of winning their Test match against a dispirited Indian side. Mr Tendulkar continued his brilliant, WWE-esque plan of getting the fans on the edge of their seats by dangling a carrot in front of them before ripping it away just as it touches their fingertips. Yes, the WWE has its haters, but haters gonna hate.








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