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AB is Not our best T20 batsman people!!!!

March 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

When it comes to T20 cricket, there’s this notion or belief in the circles of South African cricket that I would like to nip in the bud with this blog. The notion is that since AB De Villiers is widely regarded as one of the best batsmen in world cricket playing today, he’s our best T20 batter which means he should face as many balls as possible in the shortest format of cricket.

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Now on the surface when considering his talent and batting style, the statement above is not very far from the truth however when digging a lil bit deeper, that’s when that statement becomes a bit of a grey area. In plain terms, AB’s record in international T20’s sucks. It hurt to type that as I believe this guy is easily one of the most talented batsmen we’ve ever produced & my favourite player as well but stats & results do not lie. He’s not even ranked among the top 40 batsmen in world T20’s which is shocking considering his ranking in ODI’s and the problem is, there’s not really 1 reason you can pin on to say this is why De Villiers doesn’t perform so well in this format.

One can nit-pick and say things like he comes in too late, he tries to do too much, expectations are too big,  he’s just unlucky in that format, the ever changing batting order upset his rhythm etc. but I feel with the unpredicting nature that is T20 cricket, it really is impossible to say. Take Friday’s game for example: When he came in we were already 3 guys down and our run rate was bit below average but he had 2 things going for him: Quinton de Kock was already settled and was looking to take on the Ozzies and there were still plenty of overs left in the game yet he still went out for a measly 11 with a strike rate of 110 (Oh yes, Pisspoor decision by whoever decided to bat JP before AB in the powerplay – regardless of what happened after that, I believe that was one of factors that lost us the game).

After the game, I told my friends that if we’re going to fail in the upcoming WT20 cup, it’s probably going to be due to our conservativeness than any other factor because in a game where being conservative should be put on the backburner most of the time, we still have a tough time grasping that concept. For example. I really feel we’re missing a trick with David Miller as well. Why can’t we bat him at 4 coz even if he goes out early, we’ll still have AB & JP to consolidate and if he goes out in say the 17 or 18th over more often than not he probably did a lot of damage already & who better to bring in than AB who certainly has the ability to hit a boundary with the first ball he faces.

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This belief that AB should face the most balls is just silly to me as anyone of de Kock, Miller, Faf and even JP can have a big game or come off on any day. The latter 2 are actually our best batsmen according to ICC rankings. AB doesn’t need the time or amount of balls faced that Miller and some others need to have a real go at the opposition and sure there will always be the ones saying ‘he scored 35 off 12 balls in the last 2 overs, why didn’t he come in earlier’ but that’s just highsight talk really. What we really need to do with our batsmen is give them clearcut roles & tasks and hope they execute and maybe that’s why AB struggles in the T20’s. Hash & De Kock know their roles, Faf I think is a brilliant option to come in at 3 but it’s after that where it starts getting murky. Who should come in at 4 and why and what should he do?  Once we get that right, I think we’ll start seeing better results, on the scoreboard and in AB.

I’m outy.

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Proteas erred on the field & with selection… Not with the toss

February 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

Wow, how bout them disappointing Proteas hey… If you think you as a fan feel bad about their performance, can you imagine how disappointed & embarrassed they must feel? And rightly so. Take nothing away from the Ozzies who were brutal, aggressive, efficient & brilliantly lead by their skipper but the Proteas will be the first to say that was probably one of their worse performances since becoming the nr.1 test side in the world.

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Everything but the toss went the Ozzies way which could be debated as they convincingly won the test in 4 days despite losing the toss. Graeme Smith came out & said that he basically made a mistake & should’ve batted first but would the result have been so different considering the pitch played more or less the same the first 3 days? Or would’ve batted first dismissed the fact Alviro Petersen is simply out of form? Or that the SA’s top 6 albeit AB de Villiers looked clueless as to how to deal with Mo Johnson’s pace? 178677 And what about that terrible fielding? Does batting first or second warrant you to drop an opener no less than 3 times? No sorry Biff, you didn’t err at the toss, the Proteas erred on the field, in the big moments of the game but most importantly, they erred at selection.Prior to the test when asked if SA should go in with 6 or 7 batsmen, most of the experts chose the latter as they felt that since the Ozzies managed to grab 20 wickets in 5 successive tests, it would be smart to have an extra batter instead of an extra bowler or all-rounder. Yeah we erred big time there… So what now? What do we do for the test in PE?

Well it’s obvious that going in with just 6 batsmen that includes out of form Viro, JP & (strange enough) Hashim Amla cannot be an option. The question is who to bring in? Domingo already said that he’s not gonna throw debutants into the deep end which means Stiaan van Zyl & Quinton de Kock is out of the equation. Dean Elgar therefore looks like the favourite to come in but how’s his form? And don’t forget that the last time he played Australia, he got a pair. I’ll pay money just to hear those jibes & chirps he’ll get when he comes out to bat. 152280 Also, did MaClaren do enough to keep local boy Wayne Parnell out of the team? Are we going to stick with Robby P? Rory Kleinveldt will no doubt also be considered.

 

 

 

 

And don’t rule out a conservative & loyal selection panel sticking with the same 11 either but considering this is a must win (or at least must draw) test, they will take a gamble either way & considering the amount of luck they had in the first test, I’m not too optimistic that any gamble will pay off.

The only good thing that came out of the 1st test is the fact that we now know what we’re up against. AB (& to a much lesser extend Amla & JP) did show that Mo can be mowed & our bowlers weren’t that bad either, remember we had them as 90odd for 4 on the first day justifying bowling first. Then we lost the plot & the rest is history. So we now know where our faults lie & how we can go about rectifying those faults. The question is, can we?

I’m outy.

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Can the dark horses of the Proteas step up?

February 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

When you represent your country on the highest level, many would raise an eyebrow as well as ask the question: How could you be called a dark horse? Coz when you play for your country, surely you must have the skills & talent to play for them. And they’d be right by asking that question. But we all know that on that level (and especially on that level), you get your good players & then you get some rare ones that are a cut above the rest. I mean to a certain extend we know what to expect from a Hash or AB… Or a Steyn or Philander but what about the others? And that’s what I’m exploring here: Other players & contributions that could be key to us winning the series

Alviro Petersen

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For the last few weeks I’ve read about how the Ozzies plan to target certain batsmen as they feel that if they get them back into dugout, their chances of keeping SA’s run totals to a minimum will be much bigger. Biff (as captain), AB & Hash (as our best batsmen) & Faf in his new role as nr.4 batsman will surely be on top of that list but I have yet to read any mention of Viro’s name with regards to the Ozzies plans. Now the way I see it is that Petersen can either make them respect him by scoring a few much needed  centuries or he can prove them right by continuing his below par form, further putting his place in the team in jeopardy, well at least from our fans point of view.

JP’s spinning

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Batting wise, 2013 wasn’t a good year for Duminy as his average of just under 17 will tell you. So saying as a middle order batsman he’ll have to improve that come 2014 is basically a given and quite frankly just stating the obvious. I’m however very interested in seeing how Biff will use his ability to chuck the offie and whether or not it will be effective. The Ozzies already have 2 lefties in their top 6 and if Shaun Marsh or Phil Hughes is to replace George Bailey, they’ll have 3 batters Koppe can get that elusive nick from when going for the off-drive. Yes, JP must focus on his primary role in the team but having a decent left & right handed off spinner in your team can only improve the captain’s bowling options.

Morkel becoming more aggro

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I remember back in 2008 when we toured Australia, Morkel gave Ponting a real nasty bouncer against his helmet that was so ferocious, Punter fell to the ground & had to take a couple of seconds to recollect himself. It was then when a young Morkel walked down to the pitch to check if the Ozzie captain was ok only to be met by an angry captain & keeper ordering him to get back to the start of his run-up. Fast forward a couple of years & it looks like things haven’t changed one bit as his fellow pace man Dale Steyn came out & said that if Morkel can be more angry, he’d  be one of the best bowlers in the world. Now I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t wana see Morne bowling in the high 140’s, chirping batsmen & just being an all & out badass but if it’s not his style maybe he shouldn’t tinker with it. Having said that, can you imagine the Ozzies surprise & maybe even discomfort when Morkel also start giving them the fiery eyes as well??

 

Wagging the tail

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One of the latest feathers we’ve added in our Test cap has been the often crucial contributions we’ve received guys coming in at 8,9 & to a lesser extend 10 & 11. They usually push a total that could’ve been 250 to 320 or a 320 to a 400 but more importantly they can also show resistance: In the test against Oz where Faf was the deserved hero, Steyn went out for a duck, yes a duck but it wasn’t until he already faced 27 balls that the Ozzies finally got him. And what about Vern who’s quickly becoming more & more respected for his batting as the 30’s, 40’s & 50’s are starting to pile up.  It really deflates the opposition energy physically & mentally when they struggle to get those last couple of wickets so I hope out tail does some serious wagging come the series against Oz but hopefully it’s not needed.

I’m outy

 

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WhooHoo!! Super Rugby is around the corner!!

February 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

With Super rugby just around the corner where 15 teams will entertain us with some much needed exciting, fast-paced ruggas, I thought I’d give you my 15 things I’d like to see happen this season:

Stormers win a home semi-final for peet sake!!

I could be wrong but I can only recall the Stormers hosting 4 semi-final games at Newlands in their Super rugby history and we’ve only won 1 of those (against the Waratahs). Maybe this year we should play an away semi preferably against an Ozzie side because it’s obvious we struggle against SA & NZ sides come knockout time. But seriously, our previous failures are starting to smell and the only way to get rid of that stench is to win.

Either Lambie or Goosen play themselves into the Bok starting 15

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I’ve been going back & forth as to who I’d like to see kick Steyn off his pedestal (excuse the pun) & I’ve come to a decision that it really doesn’t matter however I do have my concerns. I’m glad Jake White came out & said that Lambie will be used as a 10 & a 10 alone but that statement can be severely tested if the Sharks lose a couple of key backline players during the course of the season.

My concern with Goosen is whether he can get back that form that made him a Bok in the first place. He is a talent & potential future of Bok rugby but should the young pivot pick up another long term injury (touch wood) who knows how that could affect his confidence & mentality. Both players will also have to average an 80% plus goal kicking conversion in order for HM to give them serious consideration for Bok.10

Beat the Ozzie teams!!

Nuff said..

Cheetahs show last year was no fluke

The Cinderella team of last season stole the hearts of fans domestic & abroad with their entertaining style of play complimented with solid defence that was absent in so many of their previous campaigns. Last season has showed them that they can mess around with the big boys of Super rugby and even though I’m not expecting semi-finals, I’d hate to see them not build on what they did last year.

Sharks just win it already, damn..

As a Stormers fan this is said with a bit of tongue in the cheek considering how the Sharks have reached the finals so many times only to fall at the last hurdle albeit most of those games were played away from home. Every year we read about how they’re the strongest SA team & about their Super rugby pedigree, so just win it already Sharks. Besides how cool will it be if the Stormers can give Jean de Villiers a title next year (pending he retires after the RWC ofcourse).

Bring in Fanie & Jeremy

Or better yet, bring in the whole Afrikaans cricket commentating crew just to show our rugby commentators how it’s really done. Fanie, Kotie & Co. are not afraid of telling it like they see it, something we fans really appreciate. With their commentary, they carry teams & players on their shoulders when they do something good but are not afraid of lambasting them when they play poorly or do something silly. Sure Fanie did get into some hot water recently regarding a woman ‘from Portugal’ but we did miss that humour he brings to the party when he was absent from the commentary team. I’m not saying our rugga boys are dyer & boring but the fact that we know what’s coming, makes the rugby viewing pretty ordinary at times.

Fair Consistent refereeing & citing

Now I know this wishful thinking but really, is it too much to ask???

Pieter-steph du Toit convinces HM that Matfield isn’t needed

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This is self-explanatory really. I believe that an Etzebeth / Du Toit combination can be great one if given a chance but before that is to happen the latter will need to have a great super rugby season.

 

Nazeem Carr passes the ball more than once in 1 game

I can’t remember when during last season I started noticing it but I do recall puffing out a huge sigh of ‘he’s not gonna pass’ or a loud scream of ‘pass die bol jou donner’  whenever Carr got the ball. Now maybe I’m being over-critical coz maybe he just did his part of drawing in defenders to setup the next phase. But what really bakes my noodle is that his coaches believe he’s got the pace, hands & skills to be an ideal link between the forwards & backs… Pity I’ve never seen it.

Hougie plays the whole season at 9 & actually excels in the position

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You know what’s scary, this very talented, tattooed ‘bad boy’ has been around for what, 5,6,7 seasons already and has yet to deliver a campaign where we can say that he was hands down the best SA scrummy or better yet, best 9 in the competition. Sure he can make a solid case for why that hasn’t happened yet like: playing behind FdP, playing with other people’s girlfriends, playing wing, injuries etc. I don’t care what Ruan Pienaar does in Europe, I still believe Hougie can offer the Boks much more than Gysie se klong so let’s just hope the arrival of Piet van Zyl motivates Hougaard to start producing good games at 9.

Knysna Represents!!

As a born & raised Knysna boytjie, I can’t help but to feel pride when I see fellow Knysnaars like Devon Raubenheimer  & Kurt Coleman playing an important role for their team or produce a crucial play that turns the game in their respective teams’ favour. Keep on keep keeping on boys!! Knysna is watching & cheering.

The Lions uhm..  Ag just forget it.. Moving on

Stormers get their ‘big wing’ they so desperately crave in Damian de Allende

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Even though de Allende has last year excelled at inside centre, there’s no denying that he’s one of the Stormers’ biggest backline players and therefore his name should be thrown in the hat for the vacant nr.11 left by Habana & Shadow. Chats around the watercooler say that Coetzee could opt for playing Jean at wing and to that I say: Nip that cigarette immediately!! Jean playing at wing should be our very, very last resort. Plus there’s also Pat Howard as well as Juan de Jongh that could be tried in that position.

Naka & Heyneke has a serious chat regarding Coenie

Now I’m just a rugby fan & have never coached a rugby game in my life but I know that it can’t be good for a player when your franchise coach plays you in 1 position and your national coach in another. Coenie has the potential to be a Bok great but his coaches will have to decide if he’s a loose- or tight head. Meyer can’t tell me he doesn’t have options for the latter when Frans Malherbe showed he can hold his own on international level and I’m sure that should Lourens Adriaanse be given a shot, he’ll do the same. Beast, like everyone else in the Bok15 needs someone to keep him on his toes and I can’t see anyone better than Coenie doing that. Come Super rugby time, you’ll see what I mean.

Vic doesn’t do a Jordan

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Victor’s comeback reminds me of another legend in his respective sport code that came out of retirement at a ‘seasoned’ age: Michael Jordan who ofcoz retired from the game of basketball no less than 3 times. After being retired for 2 or 3 seasons & at the veteran age of 38, he made his final comeback with the Washington Wizards, a struggling team he had some ownership shares with and what were the results? Well it wasn’t pretty. Sure he had some good games, 1 or 2 game winners even but he was nowhere close to the athlete the world knew him to be 3 or 4 years prior to his retirements. And what’s even worse is that his team failed to make playoffs in both of the 2 seasons he played for them. Now I dislike the Bulls as much as any other Stormers fan out there but I do respect the legacy & all time greatness that Victor Matfield has produced for the Bulls but more importantly the Springboks over his illustrious career and I would hate to see him dent legacy. Especially when he’s got absolutely nothing to prove to anyone.

I’m outy

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Maybe picking Parny isn’t such a bad thing…

January 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

So, according to Kepler Wessels’ regular blog he writes for Supersport, word in the Protea camp is that Wayne Parnell along with Robby P will be in the first 11 come the 1st test against Australia. I was actually surprised when I read that as I thought McLaren will probably be the favourite newby to break into the Test 11 coz I had my reservations about picking Parny but the more I simmered with the thought of giving the young lefty another shot, the more I liked it.

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Lets look at the cons & pros about selecting Parnell shall we:

Cons:

  • Inexperience: He only got 3 test caps behind his name & hasn’t played at this level for a long time so I’ve no doubt that (apart from Robby P) the Ozzies will target him to accumulate some runs
  • No specialist nr.7  batter: If Parny plays, that means there will be no place for a specialist nr.7 batsman and the way Johnson & co went about their business in the in the Ashes, having only 6 specialist batsmen could backfire badly
  • Consistency: That’s one word you unfortunately can’t associate with Parnell which could put pressure on the other 3 seamers in the team

Now for the Pros

  • Variety & pace: I could be wrong but think the last time we had lefty that can bowl with pace was probably the man in question back in 2010 so having that option could be hugely beneficial for the Proteas
  • Footmarks: As a lefty he could create some decent footmarks for our spinners to work with which in turn can create problems for their right-handed batsmen
  • A potential 30 – 50 run candidate: Parny is no slouch with the bat as suggested by his 7 First class 50’s & 2 List A centuries so along with Robby P & Big Vern, they have the potential to either bat us out of trouble, bat out time or extend our lead in quick time
  • The X factor: Parny might be inconsistent & inexperienced at test level but he does possess a x-factor that our other bowlers doesn’t have. It’s actually very exciting to not know if this guy is going to pick up 2 or 3 quick wickets or go for 12 – 15 in 1 over.
  • Potential Protea great: Saying it’s still early days when it comes to Wayne Parnell is definitely an understatement but there’s no doubt that this kid has the talent & potential a great bowling all-rounder let alone pace bowler.

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I’m outy

 

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Time to set the record straight Proteas!! You still have the mace right??

January 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

So, the series is still weeks away & Michael Clarke with his bowlers are already running his mouth!? That’s ok with me Pup coz:

  1. After demolishing the Poms with a very impressive 5-0 sweep after few gave you a chance to even win 1 test, you can, as we Saffers say, ‘n bietjie bree bors rond loop
  2. I’m so happy your tails are up coz I’d rather see us beat a cocky, confident Ozzie side than a down in the dumps one. No wait, that’s a lie, I don’t care if you’ve won or lost 10 tests in a row, it’s always satisfying beating you. But you get my point.

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Seriously though, I don’t care about this whole ‘were the ozzies that good or did the pomps just suck’ debate as we’re not playing both teams next month. A winning Australian team is a dangerous one and I’m positive the Proteas will treat them that way. When looking at both teams bowling arsenal I’d have to say that even with the top 2 ranked test bowlers in our midst, the Ozzies have the slight edge in my opinion and that opinion is based on the fact that they’ve got a 4th seamer & spinner that currently can create pressure as well as take wickets in Nathan Lyon. 175323 With the loss of Kallis & the uncertainty of who’s our primary spinner, we have neither of the former mentioned. But having said that, I’d still back our bowling unit to grab 20 wickets & win us the test because even though there’s little to separate between the 2 teams’ bowling attack, I believe we do have the better batting unit to put us in a position to win a test or at least not lose one.

There are probably still a lot of people out there that’s mad at the Proteas for not going for the win in Joburg in that first test against India and even though I’m not & never was one of them, I understand where they’re coming from. That test did however provide us with confidence that we can put ourselves in a position to win a test by chasing down a huge 2nd innings total or at least have the resilience & fighting spirit to not give the opposition a chance to win the test & that to me is the next best thing to winning. We’ve done that twice now in recent times including against the team we’re facing in our next series, in their own backyard no less, which lead me to believe that overall we do have the upper hand coming into this 3 match series. And lets not forget that even though the Ozzies might feel like they’re the unbeatables or whatever the hell their media hailed them as, we’re still the nr. 1 test playing nation in the world that has a trust, a bond & camaraderie that goes beyond the cricket pitch which really comes through when our backs are against the wall in situations on the field.

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OK, time now to talk about the big elephant in the room: Selection

We’ve just lost one of our greatest (if not the greatest) test player in Jacques Kallis and even though some might feel he could’ve waited 2 or 3 more months to retire (& really JK, you could’ve) I think he did us a gigantic favour by allowing us to face a confident Ozzie team without him. Hey we knew this day would come so there can be no excuses so if we’re still unsure who our first 11 is going to be come the first test at the Centurion, we’re in shitter. 175541.5

Options: Well personally, I think we only have one & that is to bring in a seam bowling all-rounder & Ryan Mclaren fits the bill perfectly. 112932There have been a lot of talks of Faf batting nr.4 and it will be a responsibility he’ll definitely relish. My problem at the moment is who we going to bat at 6 & whose going to be our frontline spinner. With an average of 16, 2013 wasn’t a good year for JP Duminy on the batting front & with players like Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl & even De Kock knocking on the door; he’ll need a good series to keep the vultures at bay. A lot has been said about bringing De Kock into the team & I’m still on the fence with this one. A talent he is no doubt but if they were to pick him it will probably be for that nr.7 position & I just feel it will disrupt the balance of the team by just having 3 seamers & 1 spinner, a lesson England learned and then some. Speaking of spinning, it looks like Robby P is once the again the flavour of the month so we’ll probably go with him come the first on the 12th of February. I’ve never been impressed with his bowling, hell I rate Paul Harris as a better slow bowler than him but the guy can hold a bat which put him ahead of Imo at the moment. Having said that, we should really start searching for a new spin bowler and with Zimbabwe visiting later in the year, it can be an ideal opportunity to ease that guy into test cricket.

Before we get there though, the ‘new’ test team I’d like to see against the Ozzies will look like this: Biff, Viro, Hash, Faf, AB, JP, Robby, Maccy, Vern, Dale & MM.

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Man, I wish this series started tomorrow!! I’ve just read that since post isolation, we’ve beaten all test playing nations here at home apart from Australia so like my boy Barney Stinson would say: Mission accepted!! This is going to be LEGEN – hope you’re not lactose intolerant – DARY!!!

I’m outy

 

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India: Our ultimate ODI test

December 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

Where to start… Well, might as well come out & say it straight: This is going to be a long blog coz I’ve been quiet for far too long & nr.2: India is gonna crush us in the ODI series & it might be a pessimistic way of looking at the Proteas’ upcoming series against the world champions but it’s also a realistic one. Now I could be wrong & gaddamn I hope I am but when I look at India’s strengths as an ODI side & our weaknesses we’re in a heap of horseshit… Allow me to elaborate: article-2514702-19AEFC5B00000578-536_964x537

 

 

 

 

 

Batting 1st or 2nd for India isn’t that big of a deal

Strange enough, I haven’t noticed our abysmal struggles batting second until the panel of Inside Edge mentioned it on their show prior to our game against the Pakis last week Wednesday. But it became clear to me that we do have issues after being unable to chase a small (ish) total in Cape Town & then ofcoz shooting ourselves in both feet in PE. The only thing Jackkers & myself hope is it’s not come to a point where it’s a mental issue coz our history with ‘mental issues’ in the ODI format is well documented AND not for the right reasons.  India on the other hand, seems to play better when chasing the game but with their ‘attack-from-ball-1’ approach have no issues putting up competitive totals and I think the nr.1 reason why they’re a formidable batting unit is based on my following point:

Structuring an innings

India will always get runs (sometimes in abundance) with Darwan opening their batting and what he does so cleverly is almost making the bowlers forget that his partner Rohit Sharma can tear them to pieces as well. So when Kohli comes in, India already has a moderate to very good run rate for him to work with but it doesn’t stop there. Kohli knows his game very well, knows when to consolidate, build or attack but the world’s nr.1 ODI batsman is such a brilliant player and in such good form that regardless of the situation, he keeps on scoring runs at a reasonable rate. The next moment you open your eyes he’s on 60, 70 odd and then start hitting any bowler to any boundary on the field. By then the likes of Raina or Dhoni (arguably the world’s best finisher) is by his side batting at run rates of 10+ an over and then it hearties Proteas.

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Switch over to SA and it’s all BLEEP up with that batting order. Amla is one of best batsman but we seem to try everything to make his life a living hell. His batting partners at 2 & 3 switches more & quicker than Clark Kent in a phone booth and his middle order is like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates.. So by the time our best batter in AB de Villiers comes in, he has to attack from the get-go & take risks which up his chances of getting out so much higher than it ought to be. Then after his departure more often than not, we crumble and fall. Case & point: The PE game.

selection, Selection, SELECTION!!

Come on selectors; please don’t tell me that a year & some change away from the CWC, you still don’t know who our best team is or more specifically who our best batting unit is. Do you? Ok, you don’t. Let me help you out…

Drop Kallis!! Look I know this is a sensitive issue considering this is a guy that can easily be regarded as our greatest cricketer ever produced but it’s time we take emotion out of the equation & start thinking about how or what we can achieve without the big guy. And don’t get me started with the playing now & then stupid idea which was also very arrogant of him. Plus I don’t remember someone like Tendulkar doing that before the 2011 CWC. The funny thing is we just won a series away from home without him, against the same opponents we currently lost a series against with him in the team. Coincidence?? Maybe, maybe not But we did show we can win without him. And a question to the die-hard JK fans or history buffs: Can you recall 1 or 2 games when he really came through for us with the bat chasing a high total?

Open the batting with Hash & de Kock coz you get the best of both worlds: A left & right hand combination, an exciting, young attacking player to compliment a veteran opener with an excellent record. It’s obvious that they enjoy batting together so can you imagine how good they can be if given a run up to and until the end of the world cup??? Alternatively and I really didn’t want to suggest this but it is an option which is to open with Biff & de Kock and batting Hash at 3. Keppler mentioned that de Kock will find it a bit more difficult to bat at 3 than opening but I think that’s putting it lightly because unlike de Kock (at the moment) Hash has the maturity & know how to assess the situation much better than the former can at 3. The other problem I have with this is the Biff situation is well he like de Kock is a lefty and 2, I just sense that AB captains the side much better with him not there. I know these guys are pros & also good friends but in the heat of battle (especially a losing one) you’re not gonna tell me Biff doesn’t make suggestions to AB. The other thing is that Biff isn’t the player he once was. Now both he & can Kallis can still offer a lot in Test cricket but I think now is the time that they give way to other players in the ODI format.

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Since we Loooove rotating our middle order much to irritation of this particular fan, why don’t we rotate players based on whether we’re chasing or not. For example: If we chase, bat AB at 3. That way he’s got time to settle but more importantly, as our best batsman, have a lot of overs to bat. Case & point: Kohli

If we bat first, anyone like Faf or JP or AB can come in but the latter cant come in lower than 4. And yes I said Faf. I know this guy has been awful in ODI’s the last year or so & I was one of the many who believed he should’ve been axed a looooong time ago but he can still play himself back into the squad for the world cup where the aussie wickets will suite his batting style.

So selectors, there you have it.

Play Hash, de Kock, AB, Faf, JP & Miller & let that be the end of it.

Back to the India series, another reason why I believe we’re going to struggle against India is because much like Pakistan, they also have some quality spinners. Yes, the likes of Ashwin, Mishra & Jadeja may all play second fiddle to one Saeed Ajmal but who doesn’t?  Now the upside for SA is that this is going to be a tough, tough series where both batsmen & bowlers will be severely tested so it will show us where we are as a team with the CWC about 18 months away.

I’m outy

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by djp

Do some experimenting Or stick to what you know??

October 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

There is no doubt in my mind that Heynecke Meyer will have a little bit less hair on his head by worrying if his key Springbok players will still be in one piece after what will be gruelling, take-no-prisoners Final of the Currie Cup. But barring injuries, he’ll also have a headache what few international coaches have and that is picking one quality player over another.

One example is the hooker position where I thought Meyer handled the Bismarck / Strauss situation in the Rugby Championship very cleverly by rotating the 2 world class players. One can nit-pick & say that he could’ve played Bissy longer in the final game against NZ but it will be pointless now. I have a hunch that he might continue rotating the 2 but with Bissy getting more game time which is fine because in my opinion, he is the better player.

Where I feel HM missed a trick is by doing the same with some other players or combinations like for example at flyhalf & maybe even outside centre. I think few would’ve minded to see what Lambie would’ve looked like outside Fourie du Preez for a couple of games coz yes, I’ll admit that Morne Steyn has been standing a little less flatter lately than he usually does but that doesn’t mean that he had a more all-round attacking game than what Lambie already possesses. And are we positive that JJ Engelbrecht is our long term answer at 13? We have seen improvements in his game but he still has a long way to go especially on the defensive end. I guess on one end I respect the fact that Meyer wants his players & combinations to grow so that come RWC 2015 they’ll be well settled but on the other side I also feel that we can still see if there are better options out there before it’s too late…

It will be quite interesting to see who Meyer picks for the touring squad as there are quite a few fringe players from the outside looking in waiting for a chance to make that match 22 and then there’s also the issue of whether it would be smart (for long-term sake) to pick over-played guys like Jean de Villiers or guys coming back from long injuries like Goosen & Schalk Burger. Meyer has stressed a few times already that he wants to win every game and that he wants to pick his best available players (according to him of course) to play but wouldn’t mixing and matching be smarter way to go on tour I personally feel is useless. Yes, we haven’t beaten France in France in ages so maybe that’s one game we can target but honestly who cares about Scotland & Wales??

Wouldn’t it be better to rather try… just try some new combinations against Scotland like uhm.. starting Bissy with Beast & Connie (since he’s so adamant in turning the latter into a tighthead) or trying out a Etzebeth & Pieter Steph du toit or Van der Merwe combo coz Jandre Kruger has been too inconsistent. What about giving Kolisi his start he so richly deserves? Trying ANY other scrummy than Pienaar.. Entrusting Lambie with the number 10 jersey coz we all know what have in Morne.. Start Serfontein & give De Jongh another chance.. How would JJ look on left wing?? If he’s not gonna use Lambie at full back why not try JP Pietersen… And the upside is, he can load his bench with the players he likes & trust that can take control of the game when things are going south if it gets that far..

Hey!? Are you telling me that the following team can’t beat Scotland???

1.Beast 2. Bissy 3.Coenie 4.Eben 5. Du Toit 6. Louw 7. Kolisi 8. Vermeulen 9. Vermaak 10. Lambie 11. JJ 12. Serfontein 13. De Jongh 14. Le Roux 15. JP

Bench: Guthro, Jannie, Strauss, Kruger, Burger, Pienaar, Morne, Jean..

This is just wishful thinking because I get the feeling that HM is gonna stick to his tried & tested and maybe add some surprises that shouldn’t really be surprises like Burger & Goosen in his quest to make sure the AB’s are the only team that beat us this year. I just hope it’s not an opportunity missed for blooding in new players coz at the end of the day, apart from winning a Grand slam, isn’t that what the end of year tour is all about??

I’m outy…

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by djp

The Boks are not out of the ‘ship yet..

September 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

“The truth is, you guys have been given something every athlete dreams of: a second chance.” Those were the words of Coach Jimmy McGinty in the movie The Replacements and when thinking about what happened to my Springboks this past weekend & what can still happen in this Rugby championship, the quote seems fitting.

Sure the game at Eden Park between the last 2 rugby world cup champions was spoilt by a man who a) shouldn’t have been there in the 1st place b) went off on a powertrip c) really doesn’t like South Africans and did his best to make the feeling mutual d) all of the above.. But the result remains the same: NZ won with a bonus point & the Boks, angrily & unfairly, came home with nothing but a bitter taste in their mouths, almost similar to the one they had just less than 2 years ago after a quarterfinal exit in the rugby world cup. ONLY THIS TIME, there is still hope that anger & disappointment can be turned into joy & celebration and the goal to achieve that start with a simple task: Beat Australia & beat them well.

Easier said than done right? Wrong!! 4943782-3x2-700x467This is not the same Ozzie team of yesteryear that regularly (& irritatingly) traded places with the Boks between the nr.2 & 3 spot in the IRB rankings. This is a team in shambles, a team in search of their identity, a team that almost got their asses handed to them by the Pumas in Oz. Yes they do still have quality players & dangerous ones too but the Boks right now are too strong for them & they should show that in about 10 days’ time. There have been talks about Newlands in September not being the ideal ground to chase bonus point victories here in SA and there are some truths to that but as far as I’m concerned, it’s still Newlands, the home of South African rugby & if the home team can lay a dominant platform from the get-go, do the basics right & take their chances like they did in Brisbane, a 5 pointer is not that farfetched.

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A week after the Ozzie game the Boks will face the All Blacks again & I have no doubt that after the Auckland debacle the Boks will be licking their lips to have another go at the nr.1 team in the world. Now the previous week’s results will obviously determine if this will just be a game played for pride Or the championship but regardless of the reason, when these 2 sides meet, it’s always an occasion where everyone in the rugby world sits up & take notice. Throw in the fact that it will be played at Ellis Park (known now as Coca cola Park) & I’ll not be surprised if the AB’s come out with another rarely seen haka before the 2 sides collide. Hell, I’ll even play highlights of the 1995 WRC final on the big screens just to get crowd going while also providing a subtle reminder to the AB’s not to forget where exactly they are in case the name change of the stadium did that for them.

Rugby 1995 Final rugbyrelics LR

 

 

 

 

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The Boks will be angry & they have good reason to be but like Coach Boone said in Remember the titans: “You got anger, that’s good you’re gonna need it, you got aggression that’s even better, you’re gonna need that too. But any little 2 year old can throw a fit! Football is about controlling that anger, harnessing that aggression into a team effort to achieve perfection!”

Well now we’ve also got ample motivation, packed stadiums (hopefully) with passionate supporters but most importantly, a second chance.

I’m outy

 

 

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by djp

Slow your horses.. The Rugby Championship is far from over!!

September 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Springbok – All Black game tomorrow has been billed at the battle of rugby’s 2 powerhouses and rightly so as it’s the nr.1 team in the world playing against nr.2 but I do get the feeling that rugby people has hyped up this game a tad too much. Yes, winning tomorrow’s game can go a long way in this competition for either team but.. and it’s a kardashian but: the winner of this game does not win the Rugby Championship tomorrow.

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I said in my blog a couple of weeks ago (http://blogs.sport24.co.za/djp/2013/08/19/can-the-boks-do-without-fdp-away-from-home/) that because NZ beat Oz in Oz, we’ll need to win at least 2 of our 3 away games to have a shot at winning the ‘ship & we’ve gone one further by collecting a bonus point as well albeit not against opponent I thought we would. It might come across as being bias but the All Blacks are the team facing the pressure as they are the home team defending a proud record of 30 wins in a row in Aukland and they’re the nr.1 team in the world. This is also their last home of the competition where we still have 2 left. Jean de Villiers was spot on when he said that we’ve got nothing to lose because even if we do lose, we still have a good shot at winning our first rugby championship trophy.

Don’t get me wrong, ofcoz I want the Boks to beat the old enemy & it will be even sweeter if we can do it on their ‘holy ground’. _46365426_bismarck-du-plessisI’ll take a 6-5 win with my whole body let alone both hands if it’s offered but a 6-5 loss or any loss within 7 points will be a more than suitable consolation gift. Remember back in 2004, we won the Tri nations by collecting losing bonus points in our 2 away losses and then finishing off the teams here in SA. This year we actually got away victories (including a very rare 5 pointer) instead of those losing bp’s so we’re already setup nicely for our last game in Joburg. 6847.2

And bear in mind Bok fans, the reason why both SA & NZ feel so confident about their chances tomorrow is because both teams are playing quality rugby at a very high level at the moment. So if we beat the AB’s tomorrow at a venue we haven’t won in since 1937, who’s to say that they don’t  or can’t ‘return the favour’ when they face us here in SA at a ground that has not been kind to them either. And don’t forget about a potential banana peel Aussie side who I think will throw the whole house let alone kitchen sink at us when they meet us in Cape Town in about 2 weeks’ time.

So yes, the Springbok decide their own fate from here on out and as a Bok fan that is comforting to a certain extend however regardless of the result tomorrow at Eden Park, this championship is still far from decided.

ps: GO BOKKEEEEEEEEEE!!

I’m outy

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