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Biff must really learn when to declare!!!

November 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

Isn’t cricket a team sport? Last time I checked it was..

What I’m gona right now, many of you wouldn’t like and maybe I’m just in a bad mood coz the poor performance of the Boks, but some things aren’t better left unsaid. Maybe Herchelle Gibbs were right.. Maybe there is a special “click” within the Protea squad that rules the team and also make the team’s decisions..

AB de Villiers is my favourite cricketer.. I didn’t just jump on the bandwagon on sunday because of his brilliant innings & if you don’t believe me, just check out my other blogs I wrote about him. Graeme Smith on the other hand, as captain of the Proteas, has been testing my patience of late. This is a quote I got from AB I got on the sport24 website:

“I thought we could have declared much earlier, before tea, but he wanted me to get on and that says a lot about him as captain. Lot of credit to him,”

 

I’m sorry AB but that’s not the message I got.. A lot of credit?? Why?? Coz he gave you an opportunity to beat his 277 and setup a new record instead of declaring earlier in the day and having a real go at Pakistan’s batsmen who have been in the field the whole day?? I’m sorry AB, you my boy and all.. but that was just silly stuff from Biff..  If he really wanted you to setup a record, why not let you go for the elusive 300 no South African has reached before? Coz the way you tore through the Pakis bowling after you reached 250, you probably would’ve just needed 2 or 3 overs to reach 300. Or is Biff keeping that 300 for himself??

In the previous test, we didn’t look like a team that could take 20 wickets n I must say that after 90 – 100 overs already in this test, we don’t look like we’ll get 20 wickets in this one either. Funny thing is, there was another opportunity in that test as well where we could’ve declared way earlier than we originally did & look how that test came out. It’s obvious that the team with better bowlers will win this test and with it, the series & as a captain to take away your bowlers’ opportunity away to have a real go at the opposition just to see your mate go for a record, is just.. well..stupid.. I would’ve been more understanding if he had just let AB better his own high score of 217 but that’s it.. I wonder what would’ve happened had Jacque Kallis been on 178 not out and South Africa is on 584 and there are only 18 overs left in the day. Would he have declared like he did yesterday or wait till another mate of his reach his maiden double hundred? I mean there’s no doubt that one of SA’s all time greats would no doubt have deserved a chance to reach the milestone, but would it have been in the best interest of the team??

At the end of Day 3 of this test, Pakistan trail by 267 runs with 4 wickets remaining in the 1st innings. South Africa could have an awesome morning session, get those four wickets and should Pakistan be forced to follow on, we’ll have try & get another 10 wickets in say 100 – 120 overs. Getting 14 wickets in 2 days isn’t impossible especially if we can get rid of captain Misbah ul-Haq early in the morning session, we can still go ahead & win this game. But I see a draw is coming and it could come down to an opportunity missed when SA had 550 on the board, AB on 250 (then his highest score) with at least 30 overs left in the day’s play. Biff, this is a team game, so rather support your team MATES instead of just a mate!!!

I’m outy

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Why even have an IRB Player of the year award??

November 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

It’s Movember again and the Big Three of the Southern hemisphere teams are busy dominating their counterparts in North once more.. Well, kinda.. Wot ta hell is going on with the Wallabies?? First they got lucky against Wales after being brutalized in the scrums and then they coming up way short against the Pomps & Munster.. And we think Ou Pietertjie is under pressure, one HAVE to wonder just for how long the Wobblies are going to keep up with Deans..

But that’s not what this blog is about.. The time is nigh when we’ll soon found out who’ll be voted the best of the best.. The All Blacks will probably be winners in most of the categories & to a certain extend, deservedly so.. You see, it’s the IRB player of the year award I’m worried about.. Last year the Boks won team of the year, P-Divvy was coach of the year, & Fourie du Preez player of the year.. Wait, no that doesn’t right.. The BEST PLAYER of the BEST TEAM coached by the BEST COACH didn’t win the award.. That honor went to NZ skipper Richie McCaw.. Makes sense doesn’t it..

So maybe this year the IRB would maybe continue trend of rewarding the best player of ANY team (no matter how successful or unsuccessful the team was) & give award to maybe a Guthro Steenkamp? Or any other player that played very well for his respective team that is NOT the team of year or was drilled by the coach of the year.. Yeah right.. McCaw is going to win the award again, which is actually sad coz another New Zealander has been a revelation this season & that Mils Muliaina. He didn’t play that much in the Super 14 but came the international season, the fullback was nearly unstoppable. It will be kindof a feel good story should the Chiefs captain win the prestigious award and maybe the IRB will surprise me, but I doubt that. Either that, or they surprise me again like they did when they gave the award to McCaw instead of FdP last year. Or give it to one the Frenchies.. They won something this year, didn’t they??

So with my throat now cleared, I’ll give you my Best of the South with some honorable mentions included. The team is based on the Super 14 (the games I watched) the June & Trinations tests as well as the couple of November tests already played. I’ll try my best to be as unbiased as I possibly can be but I’m not keeping any promises:

Loosehead: Guthro Steenkamp:

It’s a actually a good thing that Guthro got injured.. Yeah I said it.. He was in scintillating form in 2010 but was in need of some rest. Beast has been playing the cold North on fire this November and should both these guys be fit next year, I definitely don’t wana be in P-Divvy’s shoes. Nonetheless, even though he played for a losing team, IRB player of the year nomination should be the least the Bulls no.1 should get.

Honorable mentions: Ben Alexander & Tony Woodcock. The guys scored so many tries in the Super 14, he made his backs blush. If not injured, who knows what the Wallaby frontrow could’ve achieved. Saying Woodcock had a solid 2010 would be an understatement. That’s it.

 

Hooker: Saia Fainga’a

There wasn’t really a hooker that set the world alight this year in the South and the only player that came close to that was Saia. He didn’t play that well for the Wobblies as he did for the Reds but I guess, just the fact that he got the Wallabie call up should tell you that he can be proud of his 2010.

Honorable mentions: Too many to name

 

Tighthead: The Franks Bros

Well actually Owen Franks.. But his brother Ben did play a couple of the games for the AB’s.  Again, due to the lack of other standouts, & because Owen was solid enough to keep his brother, Afoa & Somerville out the best team of 2010’s starting lineup, he gets my vote.

Honorable mentions: Cant think of any

 

Lock (nr.4) Brad Thorn

One have to wonder who really would’ve owned this spot had Bakkies not gone Zidane on Jimmy Cowan coz he played well for the Bulls and playing very well for the Boks on tour. But Thorn has taken advantage of Botha’s absence to stamp his authority on the no.4 spot in the south.

Lock (nr.5) Victor Matfield

The guy led the Bulls to a consecutive Super 14 title, is currently the most capped Springbok EVER and is 2 wins away from leading the Boks to that elusive Grand Slam. Did I miss anything?? Oh yes.. this 33year old lock can still chip & chase as well as do a dummy pass.

Honorable mention: Anthony Boric: Matfield didn’t have that great of a tri nations, probably coz NZ and Aus denied him to rule coz of quick throw-inns. But Boric really stood up in the absence of Ali Williams.

Loosefoward (nr. 6) Schalk Burger

Mind you Jerome Kaino & Elsom wasn’t that bad this year but Burger led his Stormers superbly to the Super 14 final for the first time in their history and was rare shining light for the Boks in a forgettable tri nations. And when last was this guy yellow carded??

Honorable mentions:  Rocky Elsom & Jerome Kaino

Loosefoward (nr. 7) Richie McCaw

In his next life, this guy should come back a cat coz of the lives he has at the breakdown point. But hell, we can’t blame the All Black captain for referees being scared of him & his uncle Paddy O’Brien. But the All Blacks have been dominating in 2010 and McCaw’s leadership and gameplay is a big reason for that.

Honorable mentions: David Pocock. Remember how Schalk burst onto the scene in 2004?? Well, 2010 is Pocock’s 2004. Enough said.

Eightman: Keiran Read

The All Black had no peer in the tri nations, yes Spies & Vermeulen were awesome in the Super 14 but in the international season (esp. in Vermeulen’s case) they were no where to be found.

Honorable mention:; Cant think of any

 

Scrumhalf: Will Genia

No surprises here. Genia is probably best the Wobblies’ best scrummy since Gregan decided to put down his crutches. He followed up a breakout super14 season onto the international scene with some brilliant performances drawing comparisons to the legendary bleskop in the process.

Honorable mentions: Fourie du Preez & Francois Hougaard. If there’s one the Boks & Morne Steyn realized & learned the hard way this season, it’s that they’re just not the same without PdP!! Hougaard has shown that there is life after Bulls vice-capt. But the Boks will definitely need du Preez even if it is for just one more season.

Flyhalf: Dan Carter

I was tempted to go for Quade Cooper and if this team was based on Super14 only, he probably would’ve won by a landslide. But Carter has shown once again this year that class is permanent & if I was an All Black supporter I’d be holding my breath every time this guy and McCaw runs onto the field. Just look what happened when we lost FdP.

Honorable mention: Quade Cooper

Wing (nr.11) Gio Aplon

There were a couple of other guys I could’ve mentioned here and ironically Gio played mostly on 14 & 15 but this guy had to be in my team. He never let his team down no matter where he played and you don’t get to be voted player of the year by your mates by just being average.

Honorable mentions: Drew Mitchell & Joe Rokocoko were probably the best 11’s in the South this year.

Centre (nr.12) Ma’a Nonu

Sonny Bill Williams must be giving the Wellington centre some sleepless nights but he had a pretty good year and in my book beat Juan de Jongh based on 2 reasons: team results & de Jongh played 13 as well.

Honorable mentions: Juan de Jongh quickly formed a formidable combination with Fourie and then had to go back to 13 when JdV came. If fit, a MUST in the Bok 22. I would’ve mentioned Prince Charming of the Bulls but this team isn’t based on Super 14 alone. Sonny Bill Williams. Yeah, he’s only 2 games so far, but what games they were!!

Centre (nr.13) Conrad Smith

Another All Black having sleepless nights but just like his partner was a cut above the rest this year. Can’t actually wait to see who Graham Henry’s starting 12 & 13 is going to be next year.

Honorable mentions: Jaque Fourie was brilliant in the Super 14 & Juan de Jongh looked very comfortable at 13 on the international season.

Wing (nr.14) James O’Connor

He didn’t have that great of a Super 14 but really made that 14 jumper his own when playing the Wobblies. I really believe that Wallabies’ world cup hopes are lying on their exciting youngsters’ shoulders & O’Connor is one of them.

Honorable mention: Gio Aplon. Nuff said.

Fullback: Mils Muliaina

Remember early in the Super 14 how everyone was saying Mils must take sidestep and hand the nr.15 jersey to the young and exciting Israel Dagg?? Well, he certainly sidestepped them allright, & is still running with that jersey on. Mils has been a revelation this year, playing the type of running rugby that got him selected 92 tests ago. Definitely my IRB player of the year.

Honorable mentions: Early in his career, Kurtley Beale has been touted as Australia’s next best thing at flyhalf but this season he showed that given a bit more space he can be even more devastating. Aplon can also hold his head up high.

I’m outy

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Is Ou Pietertjie really getting it right??

November 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

I haven’t said the following a lot this year: But ou Pietertjie got it spot on!! Just thinking about what I just said now, doesn’t sound right. Ok, lemme rephrase: Ou Pietertjie got his selection spot on for the upcoming game against Wales.

Maaaaaaaaaybe, based on form he shouldve played Daniel @ 6 instead of Stegmann but even though the Bulls flanker had a quiet game by his standards, one should remember that it was still he’s debut game for the Boks. Lambie, apart from the sitter he missed, didn’t have a bad debut either but more on him later.

I don’t recall who was named man of the match but if it wasn’t Beast or Big Vic, I’d be very surprised.

The Wobblies were apparently handed a rugby lesson in scrumming by Wales & now they’re quietly confident (with us being the slowest team to adapt to the new interpretations of the law of the 3 southern hemisphere teams) that if they can take us on upfront, they should be able to beat us. Well, I hate to burst their bubble (no, I’m lying).. I love to burst their bubble coz that’s not going to happen. Why?? It’s simple really.. Coz the Boks showed against Ireland, that even with a depleted Bok team, if our scrums & lineouts are solid, defense is above par & we have reliable kicker, we can beat teams up north.

Wales, as fiery as they always play, they never seem to have enough in the tank against the Boks & this will be the case again this weekend. Everyone was worried that Ireland was going to be our biggest threat to getting the Grand Slam, but with Ireland out of the way now, the tour juuuuuust got a little bit easier.

Earlier I mentioned that I thought that P-Divvy got his selections spot on because selecting Steyn ahead of Zane was the right move (and I don’t even have to go in details with that statement) as well as keeping Pienaar at 9. I was worried that we’ll see another average performance from the versatile scrummy but he also played a big part in keeping the Boks going forward. Francois Hougaard showed in the Tri nations that he can mix it with big boys but if Ruan can build on his past week performance, he should do enough to hold on to his position atleast until FdP is back. Ou Pietertjie explained in the media his reasons for his substitutions but I think he still got wrong. Subs are suppose to be a tactical decision and (if we’re leading) to keep momentum going or change the game into our favour but considering that Ireland scored more (points) and tries than we did with their subs its obvious that our management staff got it wrong with our subs (like most most times this year).

Now I wrote in my previous blog that even if we don’t get the Grand Slam (coz I thought we’ll lose against Ireland) this tour will be a success if the youngsters we brought into the squad can blossom & show that they can cut the mustard on international level which puts us in a bit of a predicament: Like I said with Ireland out of the way, the Boks chances of getting that rare Grand Slam has improved a lot & chopping and changing a team that’s winning would just be stupid. But then again what about the Lambies, the Daniels, the Oosthuizens, the Jantjies & the Hargreaves?? When will these youngsters get a chance to play and a decent chance at that?? Otherwise what would be the point of bringing them on tour before a World Cup year?? How will we know for sure that Lambie can be an international pivot? Or Hargreaves can be the next Matfield? Or Coenie can compete with the fatties up north?? How will we know this if they don’t get a chance to play??

I think that while we keep on winning on tour, we’ll neva know these things which is sad really. P-Divvy and his staff should really think deep and hard of what they really want to achieve on this tour. Winning the Grand Slam or giving the youngsters a decent run before an important rugby year. One should always remember that the coaching staff are under immense pressure to have a successful tour (esp this bunch) and unfortunately for us Boks fans, (yeah me too sometimes) winning is what matters most.

So with that being said, go Boks & win!! But if you should lose (touch wood) please remember that success on this tour isn’t based on winning alone. For me atleast (this time)..

I’m outy

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This should be the GROWING UP tour instead of the Grand Slam tour

November 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

Hey Bloggers!! You missed me?? Well like Michael Jordan said coming back from his first retirement: I’M BACK!!  

After reading the article “Boks to hope Irish are ‘cold’” and a host of other articles regarding this Grand Slam tour, it made me reach one conclusion: Bok fans should prepare themselves for yet another loss against Ireland this coming Saturday. I can’t recall when last we actually beat the Irish side in Ireland and I can’t for the life of me see how we’ll be able to do it this weekend.

The following players are all out injured with Jean de Villiers probably joining them (touch wood) John Smit, Jaque Fourie, Wynand Olivier, Andries Bekker, Fourie du Preez, Heinrich Brüssow, JP Pietersen, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Butch James and BJ Botha, Schalk Burger, Juan de Jongh.

You’ve got about 4 past & present winners of the SARU Player of the year award on the injured list and that in it self should tell you what huge loss we have. And no disrespect to Adi Jacobs but when you pull a player to the squad that struggled to get regular game time with its own province, you know the Boks are in trouble. Now ou Pietertjie do have a somewhat ok-ish reason for calling up the Sharks centre: he knows the Boks setup and calls etc. But I think guys like Meyer Bosman, Waylon Murray & Robert Ebersohn should consider themselves a little bit unlucky for not getting the Bok call up. I mean doesn’t it make sense that you replace a centre with a centre??

As exciting as youngsters (& test rookies) like Lambie, Coenie, Keagon, Alberts, Jantjies, Deon etc might be, these guys (should they get game time) will have to adjust very quickly to the test arena against probably the toughest team they’ll face on tour and even with stalwarts like Vic, Bismarck, Juan, Morne & Habana in the mix, I think a victory against the Irish is asking for a bit too much. We’ll give them a run for their money because we are after all the Springboks, but I think this should rather be the Growing Up tour instead of the Grand Slam tour.

The injuries to the players above will definitely hinder our performance up north but it could also be blessing in disguise and illustrate if we really have the depth we all think we have. Because even if the tour is not a success on the field, if the youngsters blossom like a Habana or Steyn did with their first northern hemisphere experiences, the tour with the RWC in mind can be called a success.

Now I’ve written quite a few blogs about what Bok team I’d like to see run on but P-Divvy has NEVA received any of my memo’s.. but that won’t stop me from doing it now would it..  

1. Beast 2. Bismarck 3. Jannie 4. Bakkies 5. Vic 6. Keagon 7. Juan 8. Spies 9. Hougaard. 10.  Morne 11. Habana. 12. Lambie 13. Adi 14. Basson 15. Aplon 16. Chilliboy 17. CJ 18. Flip

19. Kanko 20. Ruan 21. Lwazi 22. Zane

Now should Jean be able to play and Francios Steyn be available for selection my team would look like this:

1. Beast 2. Bismarck 3. Jannie 4. Bakkies 5. Vic 6. Keagon 7. Juan 8. Spies 9. Hougaard. 10.  Morne 11. Habana. 12. Lambie 13. JdV 14. Aplon 15. Steyn 16. Chilliboy 17. CJ 18. Flip

19. Kanko 20. Ruan 21. Basson 22. Zane

AAAAAAAND.. Should only Steyn be available to play, he should play 13 with Gio moving to 15, Basson 14 & Mvovo on the bench.

LOL.. I can’t wait till Thursday to see how wrong I actually got this but I’ll support the 22 ou Pietertjie fields nonetheless.

On the side though:

-          Congrats to the Sharks!! Man, you really gave my boys a hiding.. we gave you guys a bit of help but the best team on the day as well as the whole competition won the CC and are well deserved winners.

-          Bad luck to Duane Vermeulen.. I can’t help but wonder if WP had won, would he have toured. Coz if that’s the case, does it mean that what he did the rest of the year didn’t matter? I think it’s obvious for everyone to see that P-Divvy is not a fan of the WP no.8 and I guess that he’s right but it’s just sad to see a guy that played so well (THE WHOLE YEAR) didn’t get rewarded for it.

-          Congrats to Alistair Coetzee & SARU for recognizing the WP coach. WP might not have won anything this year but to be the only SA team to feature in both the Super 14 & CC finals, our WP coach can hold his head high and look forward to next season!!

-          All the winners @ the SA Rugby awards – Congrats and well deserved!!

Im outy

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