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How can we NOT appreciate Test cricket!!??

December 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

With all these shorter versions of the game at our disposal as cricket fans, isn’t it wonderful to see how test cricket, hailed by your average cricket fan as boring, can still entertain, fascinate and give you some ooohs and aaahs!!??

Look I love these 20-20’s, IPL’s, MTN40.. Ok, maybe not MTN40.. I’m sorry, but that’s just silly for me since we already have the 50 over game, which in its own right is still awesome.. It may be a while back, but few will forget the 438 game against Australia right?? However for me, test cricket is still the ultimate form of the game.. It’s exactly what it is..a test.. and so much more..  I don’t understand how people can call this boring because:

How can you not appreciate the Proteas almost bowling the entire India team out in about 45 overs on Day 1? How can you not appreciate Morne Morkel peppering the Indian batsmen with some great bouncers while his partner in crime Dale Steyn was busy getting into a rhythm of devastating effect to remove kingpins Dravid and Tendulkar?

   

How can you not appreciate Biff, Alviro & Amla laying the platform of SA’s only innings of the test?

How can you not appreciate Jacques Kallis going to the hairdresser & still have the time to put the focus in to score his 1st maiden double hundred?

How can you not appreciate AB de Villiers upping the anty to get us over 600 and still score another 100?

How can you not appreciate the Indians not going down without a fight through Ghambir, Sehwag & later on Dhoni? How can you not appreciate the little master, Tendulkar scoring his 50th test century under an enormous amount of pressure? 

And how can you not appreciate the Proteas doing what to be done, what they the needed to do to get the win, before the weather threatened to take that victory away from them?

This match just showed us once again that test cricket is here to stay and will always live on!! Almost every night I watch the “Legends of cricket” on ESPN Classic showcasing some of the greatest ever to have held a cricket ball or bat. Now I doubt if we’ll ever see the batting averages of Bradman & even our very own Graeme Pollock.. Or the bowling displays of the Hadlee’s, Warne’s or Murali’s.. Or the all round brilliance of the Sobers and Botham’s..

But how lucky are we to see Jacques Kallis busy stamping down his legacy as probably the greatest all rounder the game has ever seen. How lucky are we to have youngsters like Amla and AB? 2 players that can break all South African batting records before them.. How lucky are we to have Steyn & Morkel in full flight continuing the trend that South Africa could be one of the Mecca’s in the world when it comes to producing pace bowlers.. And what about the brilliance of Sachin?? A guy now just 4 centuries away from becoming the 1st and probably only batsmen to have 100 centuries behind his name in the top 2 formats of the game (test & ODI’s). Rahul Dravid, probably the most prized wicket to get in test cricket because of his “wall” style of batting. Or watching Sehwag bat with a strike rate that will make premier batsmen in the 20-20 format blush.

We have all of this people!! This is happening in our time!! 20 years down the line the next generation of cricket fans are going to watch ESPN classic and say: I hope they appreciated that wonderful display of test cricket.

I’m outy

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by djp

Walking side-by-side with the All Blacks

December 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

I read the Friday debate column yesterday and after reading it, a sudden calmness just came over me because I realized something: Unless we have a crutch list next year like we had this year (touch wood), we can AND WE SHOULD walk side-by-side next to New Zealand as favorites for next year’s RWC.. Yeah I said it and I’ll say it again, WE SHOULD WALK SIDE-BY-SIDE NEXT TO THE ALL BLACKS AS FAVORITES FOR NEXT YEAR’S RWC HOSTED BY NEW ZEALAND.

When I read all those names, all those guys missing from the squad, I think NZ themselves would struggle with a crutch list like that. Now mind you, we sucked in the Tri nations this year, we did.. But that’s in the past now and we can’t dwell on that anymore. The primary reason why we won 3 out 4 on the Grand Slam tour was coz we stuck to game plan, yes our boring game plan (& got some luck on our side – Thx O’Gara). And we showed against England if we execute the basics of that game plan, we’ll be rampant and very difficult to stop. It all starts with defense!! Last year, any team including the mighty All Blacks would think twice before running the ball towards us coz of our defense. Big ups to them for canceling out our lineouts with quick throw inns, but even that could’ve been denied if our kicks were executed better (meaning either kicking for the stands if you want to kick out or make sure there are 2 or 3 chasers for every ball being kicked) Backs like JP & Habana & even Du Preez did that superbly last season. On the ground, Brussow made worldclass fetchers like McCaw & George Smith look like amateurs & who knows, maybe he can do it again next year. The 2 Steyns striked fear into any & every opposition when they indicated to the referee that they’re going for the post and most of the time, opposition had good reason to be scared. And then general play.. where Fourie du Preez had no peer. Not only was he the best player in his position but also the best player on the planet – DEFINETELY GOT SNUBBED BY THE IRB FOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR!!! That’s my story and im sticking to it.

We never were as creative as the AB’s, the Wobblies or the French.. & we’ll probably never ever will be. That’s not our style.. When are you people going to except that?? But if we execute what I highlighted in the paragraph above, we wouldn’t need to be creative.. I bet if you ask any English player that played against us last week whether he’d rather want to play the physical and exciting All Blacks & lose or play against the physical & brutal Springboks and still lose, they’d pick the All Blacks. Having said that if there’s ONE thing we can learn from the AB’s and even the Wobblies, it’s finishing 5 – 10 meters from the tryline. I think if we bash opposition for a maximum of 3 – 5 phases and spread the ball to the wings, we’d score more tries than we do now. But we’re so fixated on using our forwards at that time that it looks like we forget 7 out 10 times there could be an overlap out wide. LOL, maybe a rule must be inforced:

Forwards, only get 3 tries to bash and try to score. Should they fail to score a try the ball must be spread to the wings with immediate effect.

 

The other problem that we have (that probably only the All Blacks has), is who to play should everyone be fit. I wont get into it with detail coz this blog is getting a bit long now and a lot can still happen till next year (injuries) but lets just do a quick once over.

Frontrow problem

The biggest one is obviously is Bismarck or Smit. We all know that Smit (just like with Jake the Snake) is Ou Pietertjie’s captain, and if he’s fit he’ll him force into the starting 15. Victor has only just started to show that he COULD be our RWC captain, but Smit is still my captain. Something’s gotta give and I personally think this could be our biggest problem. And ast year it was Beast, this year it was Steenkamp & a little bit of Beast. Who of the 2 is gona be our nr.1?? Tighthead is still open in my books.

Locks

Okay so we know who’ll be starting, but who’s gona be on the bench?? Andries “Playa” Bekker?? Danie?? Flip?? Hargreaves??

Loosies

Behind the captain/hooker problem, definitely our 2nd biggest problem. Is it going to the tried and test Burger, Smith?? Will Brossow show that he is this country best out-and-out fetcher?? Will rookies like Flow, Alberts & Stegman have done enough to force them into the 22 let alone starting 15??

Half backs

The halkf backs pick themselves but who’s on the bench? Hougaard or Pienaar?? January?? Lambie or Jantjies?? Even James & Grant??

Centres

My 2 centres will always be Jean & Jaque.. but who will P-Divvy pick?? De Jongh?? Olivier?? Jacobs?? Lambie??

Backthree

 

The RWC 2007 back three was a balance of pace (Habana), defense (JP) & calmness (Percy). & no one could challenge those guys. Now we have Aplon (that can play 14 & 15) Mvovo, Basson, JP, Habana, Kirchner & ofcoz Steyn.  This balance is just as important as the balance we must have with the loosies.

Now like I said a lot can still happen, but if everyone is fit, this is would be my Bok 22:

1. Beast 2. Smit. 3. Jannie 4. Bakkies 5. Matfield 6. Burger 7. Smith 8. Spies 9. Du Preez 10. Steyn 11. Habana 12. JdV 13. Fourie 14. Aplon 15. Steyn

The bench could be a horses for courses thing.. So if we want to run a bit more than we use to:

Bench: 16. Bismark 17. Guthro 18. Bekker 19. Brussow 20. Hougaard. 21. de Jongh 22. Lambie

And if we want to play like we’re playing now:

Bench: 16. Bismark 17. Gutrho. 18. Flip 19. Alberts. 20. Pienaar 21. de Jongh 22. Lambie

The other 5 to complete the squad of 30 can be: Chilliboy, Van de Linde, Kanko, JP, Mvovo

Either way, teams playing against us in the RWC will have 30 legitimate reasons for fearing playing against us & so they should be.

Because we could be here again!!!

Im outy

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