Humble Pie and a Massive Mug of Cocoa

5 08 2012

Yesterday I posted on how South Africa seemed to have found a killer instinct needed to transform them from a good team to a world-beating one. It is with disappointment that I have to retract my statement of incredible naivety. The killer instinct I claimed us to have has proven to be a mirage of depressing proportions.

The Proteas were seated in firm control of the Second Test but it was, in fact, a South African that disseated them from their position of power. SA were dealt a lesson in quality batting from Kevin Pietersen (sorry, I couldn’t resist the SA reference) and it might well have done the effervescently glowing African powerhouse a world of good to be brought back to earth.

The result of this intriguing match seems headed towards the ‘draw’ category and it is such a shame that the opportunity for one team to take the match by the scruff of the neck is fading away.

In other news, New Zealand seem likely to be beaten by West Indies in what will be a massive disappointment for the former. I picked up this gem whilst surfing through cricket forums:

Feel free to leave comments below!

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The Stranglehold Continues

4 08 2012

English: South African cricketer,Hashim Amla b...

Hashim Amla played a key role in a dominant 1st Test victory for SA.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

South Africa have managed to keep complete control of the series as of now – something slightly foreign to the Protea supporter.

South Africa are known as “chokers” but that tag is just the tip of the iceberg. Since its inception the team has been blessed with many highly-talented line-ups, but the talent has until now been tainted by poor mental strength. The famous Australian machine did not thrive as it did due to having a few stars such as Warne, McGrath and Ponting; they thrived due to every player in the line-up playing with a winning, dominant attitude. Sure, without the talent of the aforementioned the attitude would have been wasted, but without both components that great team would have just been a team.

South Africa, in contrast, struggled to dominate world cricket despite also having a wealth of quality players. For every Ponting there was a Kallis; for the McGrath/Warne duo there was Pollock/Donald. It’s fair to argue that the Australian team had more talent, but the gap between the two nation’s performances certainly outweighed the gap of talent.

It is therefore refreshing to note that South Africa are not only displaying an obvious new generation of talented cricketers (AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Graeme Smith are the obvious names), but also a previously unseen X factor present in past world no 1 teams. Now it would definitely be premature to declare SA the next no1 machine (ie the next 1980s WI or 2000s Australia) but they are displaying many signs that hint towards it being a firm possibility.

As a South African fan am I setting myself up for disappointment or am I beating down the right bush? Leave your opinion in the comments section!





Morkel – A Raw Talent Second to None

4 07 2012

Morne Morkel at a training session at the Adel...

A man with unfulfilled potential (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Morne Morkel – a name that strikes fear into many an international batsmen. I don’t think the television viewer gets a full picture of just how scary a Morkel delivery is. A ball hurtling at you at 145kph+ is scary at the best of times, but when it is hurtling at your chest after bouncing off the pitch in a manner similar to a tennis ball it becomes a different proposition altogether.

Dale Steyn is famous for his brutal attack on Craig Cumming. Morne is yet to have such a moment, but he certainly will. In fact, he will probably have many. It seems a South African pace bowler phenomenon – Allan Donald had a similar experience with Mike Atherton. I hope that when Morkel has his moment of similar aggression- for it is not a question of if – it will rub off on him in a manner similar to how it did on Steyn. That moment changed Steyn – he was no longer just a technically amazing bowler who swung it at pace. He was a fast bowler, and a darn good one.

Morkel has the ability to be a fast bowler, and just as good a one as Steyn. Big call, I know, but I really believe it. He just needs to get his game to click into place – we’ve seen it happen sporadically, but not enough. Morne, the situation is simple: find consistency; find greatness.





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.








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