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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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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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Be bold Proteas & drop Faf / Ingram / Robby P and bring in De Kock!! Jonty too!

July 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

For the last year or so, when it comes to South African one-day cricket, I expected two things to happen 9 times out 10 we stepped out on the field:

  1. We’ll get smashed in the death overs of the game while continuing to ignore bowling at least ONE half-decent yorker per over &
  2. Our middle order will fail to make a significant impact on the batting front

It’s harsh but it’s the truth as evident by most of the matches we’ve played for 2012 / 13. So when the above mentioned happened again on Saturday against Sri Lanka, I had a lot shaking of the head & ‘here we go again’ rants towards to telly. I actually had to change the channel to the Ashes and see how the Ozzies were struggling for a wry smile to appear every now & then..

But what really pissed me off was the continuous decline of the world class fielding we’ve become accustomed to seeing whenever the Proteas were on the field. What happened to the almost wall like defence fielding between point & mid-off? Or the ground fielding on the boundaries that made us the envy of the cricket world where the batsmen had to second guess almost every second or third run they thought about taking? Yes the days of Jonty & Gibbs (& these days AB too) are long gone but even after their retirements, their spirits sort of still lived on whenever the Proteas went out to field but these days it seems to be dwindling. One gets the feeling that because of their reputation, the team has become complacent in that area of the game & that is totally unacceptable and has to be remedied ASAP!!  One way to do that would be to bring in Jonty again. jonty-480x238 I do recall that he was involved with the Proteas a couple of years back and his presence in the squad was evident on the field. We brought in Allan Donald & recently Claude Hendersen to help with our bowling, why not bring in arguably the game’s greatest ever fielder to help with our fielding because we clearly need it.

I also felt that we missed a trick by not starting the exciting & young talent of Quinton de Kock instead of Petersen or Ingram for the first game. 153706 It’s not too late though as there are still 4 games left in the series & his inclusion in the first 11 will also allow our best fielder in AB to move back to cover or point which will immediately improve the standard of fielding in that area. I know that our new coach stated that he wants to concentrate on stabilizing our team through consistency & I laud him for that but how long will he continue with the Ingram-opening experiment as well as the exceedingly poor form of Faf du Plessis? Another way of asking that question can also be: Should he continue with the Ingram-opening experiment & the very off form Faf du Plessis?

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Instead of writing columns for Supersport, the Titans batsman should maybe consider spending that extra time in the nets because I for one think he could use it. The latter’s form has been very concerning and some thunderous brain storming should be done whether to continue with him or bringing in either Behardien or de Kock. I know it’s unfair to single out one individual when the guys responsible for getting runs on the board are failing to do so as well but of the top 6 batsmen (bar Alviro Petersen), he has been the most disappointing so far this year. However at the end of the day Darren, management decides who plays and one also has to consider with a new coach at the helm, the backing of both players & coach is at a fragile stage at the moment so you don’t want to rock the boat too much but it does need some rocking. CRICKET-SRI-RSA

 

 

 

 

 

Another concern is also the bowling form of Robin Petersen who has shown in the ICC tourney that he’s no slouch with the bat but his primary role of taking timely wickets or at least slowing the run rate down has been scarce of late which forces AB to make more use of part-timer JP Duminy & rookie Aaron Phangiso when it should be other way round. I know this will probably not happen tomorrow but if it was up to me, my Protea 11 would look like this:

Hash (if not fit – Viro), de Kock(wk), JP, AB, Faf, Behardien, Miller, McClaren, Morris, Morkel & Phangiso.

I feel that Amla’s calmness & experience will be able to allow to de Kock to play his natural attacking game & with stalwarts JP & AB coming in next he should be fine should we lose Amla. Speaking of AB, I think he should also be more selfish with his wicket, focusing more on being the anchor of the batting lineup instead of being the main run getter.  We all know he can let lose when needed but lately it looks like he feels that if he doesn’t score, no one else will. It surely must be last chance saloon for Faf especially if Behardien plays and picks up where he left from the Pakistan series and the former fails once again. Also Behardien can throw chuck down a decent ball which will soften the blow of Robby P’s absence. Morkel was outstanding on Saturday and really took on the role as senior bowler with no Steyn in the squad and for McClaren & Morris the learing curve must continue and both are capable of adding a quick extra 30 or 40 to the total.

Luckily our record in Sri Lanka is nothing to write home about so one can look past the end result of the series to decide whether the Proteas’ tour was successful or not. However we can be as lenient as we want to be, another performance like the one we saw on Saturday & at least one alarm bell should start ringing for Domingo & his men.

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I’m outy

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Proteas vs Sri Lanka in the Final??

June 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

I think it’s fair to say that the last 4 teams left standing in the ICC Championship are the teams deserving of their semi-final spots. Sure the Proteas snuck in the back door but given their record in events like this, most of their fans will feel a sense of relief that lady luck finally shed some kindness their way. Most bookies will probably still lean towards an India-England final but this blogger has a hunch it won’t be that cut & dry:

South Africa VS England

To a certain extend one can say that SA has already had a successful campaign regardless of their result against the Poms today. As I’ve previously said, we’ve already had some luck in this tournament and against Pakistan, we showed that we do have the mental strength to come through and win a game after we put ourselves way behind the 8 ball. However the problem now is that a lot of fans (including me) feel that the stars are Finally aligned and that this is our tournament to win. On the other side we have England who (bar a poor bowling performance & a masterful innings by Sangakara) have showed that there’s a reason why they were touted favourites before this competition started. I’ve been impressed by their bowling but not that much as the tourney is being played in their back yard but they have taken advantage of that, none more so than Jimmy Anderson.  159789 He’s one of the leading wicket takers in the competition and the main reason why teams struggle to get going against England in the first 10 overs. With the Proteas we’ve unfortunately seen the best & the worst of what their bowling can do so my guess is as good as anyone’s as to what bowling attack is going to pitch up.

England will definitely target our middle order that has been below average so far in this competition, so Amla and Ingram will have to make sure that they see out the barrage of Anderson and Broad. A I doubt Kirsten will make any changes to the top 7 & in my previous blog I’ve already expressed my concern about Messer’s AB, Faf & JP. One or 2 of them will have to fire if we want to post a good target or chase down a solid to very good total. Looking at England’s batting line up, it’s more or less the same as ours but their middle order has performed a little bit better, case & point: the games against Sri Lanka & Australia.

 

 

Prediction

I don’t know if I’m just being bias or just going on a hope & prayer but I honestly do believe that the Proteas can beat England to advance to the finals. Both are in a bit of uncharted territory (semis) however the Proteas should go into this knockout game without a care in the world & should play that way too whereas England will know if they lose they will face the disappointment of a country as well as the agonising sting of their press whose reputation for stinging is well known.

India VS Sri Lanka

The lovely thing about knockout rounds is that past results or what you did to get there, counts for nothing and that’s something India will or should be aware of. India blazed through the preliminary rounds and being the only team not to suffer a loss so far in the competition their favourite tag should be waving the highest of the 4 teams. Their opponents (bar a surprisingly poor opening performance against NZ) has been building up a head of steam heading into the semis and showed especially in the England game, that they will be no push overs.India may have 2 player of the tournament candidates in Dhawan & Jadeja but looking at their results so far, their talented middle order hasn’t really fired in this tournament or another way of looking at it, they haven’t really had the chance to.

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Dhawan has been brilliant so far but he does give the fielding side an opportunity to get him out with his adventurous type of play and Sri Lanka will know the quicker they get to the Indian bowlers the better their chances for victory. I know that goes for every cricket team but considering that even Ashwin coming in at 8 is no slouch with the willow, the Lankas should take that statement to heart.

For Sri Lanka, they will once again look at their veteran trio of Dilshan, Sanga & Mahela to do most of the heavy lifting on the batting front but they will know that it’s on the bowling front where this game can be won or lost for them. I believe in the Malinga & Kulusekara, they’ve got the best opening pair in this competition & the former’s reputation for being the scariest bowler to face in the death is still very much intact. 159193

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prediction

This is a bold one, even bolder than my first prediction but I believe Sri Lanka will beat India for no better reason that I believe Sri Lanka’s bowling attack will triumph the Indian’s strong batting line up.

Now ofcoz I can get this horribly wrong and both India & England go through to the finals but if I’m right, I’m buying lotto tickets!!

I’m outy

 

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by djp

Batters, you’re up!

June 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

During the post-match analysis of the SA – Pakistan game, HD Ackerman said the exact same thing I was contemplating myself while looking ahead to our match up with the West Indies this coming Friday. His words were along the lines of: Lets just hope that Chris Gayle gets a big one against India because he’s bound to get one during this tournament. Well, he didn’t and that’s definitely a bit of concern for this Protea fan. Yes, the Islanders do have other guys like Charles, Samuels, Bravo, Pollard & Sammy that can take the game away from the opposition in a hurry if the mood catches them but the big Jamaican is the big fish of their batting line-up & you’d want to get him out early.

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It would be little bit of nit-picking if you want to say something criticizing or negative about the outstanding bowling performance of the Proteas against Pakistan but I have to be honest and say that I still have a couple of concerns. It took us 45 overs to bowl Pakistan out which meaning there were still 5 overs to spare and considering our record when it comes to death bowling we weren’t really tested in that stage of the game like we were against India. A part of me actually hopes that the West Indies bat out their 50 overs to see if we’ve learned some lessons to the poor display we had against the world champions.

Another concern I have has been the bowling form of our frontline spinner Robin Petersen coz if someone who didnt know who he was before this tournament kicked off went with our 1st two games,  he looked more like one of our frontline batsmen as appose to being the former. The worrying thing about Robby P is (as evident by his tournament so far) that he’s not exactly a wicket-taking spinner (no scalps so far) and he’s not that economical either (2nd highest economy of our bowlers). But (and it’s a kim kardashian but) he has shown that he’s no slouch with the bat and actually averages the most runs of all SA players so I’m sure he’s place in the first 11 is still secure for now. It’s well known that Gayle is not as comfy with spin as he as with pace, so Robby & Koppe will have to be clinical in their bowling.

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Everyone is waiting to see if Dale Steyn is going to play on Friday or not and even though a little voice in me is screaming why change something that’s successful I think I can make an exception when it comes to one of the world’s premier fast bolwers. In fact, after just writing that sentence I kinda feel we’re in a no-lose situation whether Steyn plays or not. I just hope the selectors don’t have a brain explosion by selecting Kleinveldt coz even though England may not have the batting paradise pitches that were provided for batsmen during the IPL, I just feel that Rory’s length type balls he usually bowls can and probably will be dispatched to the boundary more often then others.

On the batting front, the jury is still out on the Amla / Ingram experiment coz I totally agree with Sport24’s editor Rob Houwing when he said that Ingram’s 20 he scored against Pakistan was the equivalent of a 40odd considering the pitch we batted on. However, he will know that the vultures are flying over his head so an actual 50, 60, 70odd should keep them away for the time being. It’s mind boggling how a side like the Proteas, famous for their good running between the wickets, has made so many crucial yet comical errors by losing wickets via run outs. I hope this had been addressed and some stern words have been said to the middle order that have yet to fire in this tournament. Guys that frequently read my blogs will know the concern I have on Faf’s ODI form and after that wonderful 150 he scored during the warm ups, it really looks like JP & Robby P has switched places as the former has performed better on the bowling front than he has on the batting. And AB has been the biggest sinner of them all as in both matches he looked settled but then gave his wicket away.

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Unlike the Pakistan game, I do feel this game will be won with bat instead of the ball and our 3 senior batsmen (Hash, AB & JP) have actually fared pretty well against the West Indies in the last 5 or 6 matches we played against them. But talent and skill have never been a concern for SA; Mental & psychological battles have though and considering the situation for the loser of Friday’s game, those encounters will come to the fore again. We’ve proved that we can overcome those battles against Pakistan, so it’s with confidence that I say we can do it against West India too. 159311

I’m outy

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by djp

Are the Proteas on par with preparation for the ICC Championship

May 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

When looking at an ODI batting line up comprising of: Smith, Amla, Ingram, de Villiers, Duminy, du Plessis & Miller / Behardien, the first thoughts that pop in my head is solid & attacking. I think at first glance any Protea supporter will feel that these guys can get the job done on the batting front. However at 2nd glance most Saffers will notice that one name isn’t on the list: Jacques Kallis. In my previous blog I said that if JK was match-tested , available And on form, I’d definitely play him, however I think we all can agree he’s none of the three if you consider: he didn’t play in the 5 game series against Pakistan, he made himself unavailable for the championship and he’s not exactly playing Hussey like innings there in India. So lets move on the 3rd glance.Feel free to correct me, but of those 8 batsmen mentioned, AB & Miller are the form batsmen & are the only 2 that’s actively batting for their respective IPL clubs. Faf (even though back with CSK) & JP are coming back from long injuries, Biff (apart from a lovely 70odd he scored) is struggling with the bat in Surrey, Ingram & Behardien aren’t playing any professional cricket at the moment and Hash dropped (probably willingly) off the cricket world radar since the Pakistan series. Worried yet? I know I am when I see countries like India, Sri Lanka, Australia, West India & England (through county cricket) playing their players regularly in world class & very competitive leagues & tournaments while building up for the ICC Championship.

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Lets go the bowling department. Of the 7 bowlers in 15men squad it’s safe to say Steyn has been the pick of the bunch if current form is anything to go by. In the IPL Morkel has been inconsistent & McClaren has only played one game so far. Phangiso last played in the T20 finals for the Lions and Rory, Tsotsi & Robby P hasn’t played cricket since the Pakistan series. Ok now I’m really worried considering we’re only playing one warm up game against minnows Netherlands before we kick off our championship against world cup champs India. 157385

What I’m not worried about is that the coaching staff of Kirsten, Upton and others will make sure that the team will be as best prepared as they can be in this short amount of time.  In fact I just read that Kirsten will once again make use of adventurist & motivational speaker Mike Horn to give the squad some oomph prior to the championship. The coach also mentioned that because of the short preparation time he’ll be a little bit more consistent in selection which is pleasing to hear pending he picks a starting 11 based not only on consistency but form (Miller) & experience (JP & Faf) as well. The latter being on very thin ice in my book, much to the disagreement of one of my best buds. My friend is one of those guys that when he likes a player, blindly believes that player is the best in the world, can walk on water & turn pepsi into coke. He also suggested that Faf should open which according to him will improve that stinking average of 27 of his but I really doubt Kirsten would do that.

But like my friend, I too have my favorite players & obviously love it when they’re doing well but cricket is a team sport & when I pick my starting 11, I do it based on whether I’m confident enough that those guys can do the job . But I’m not the coach and It will be interesting to see who Kirsten picks for that middle order. Miller just played the innings of his life, Ingram did just about enough to validate his place in the team, Behardien began to find his feet in that Pakistan series, Faf’s struggling with form as well as coming back from an injury & so is JP even though the last 2 are the more experienced of the 5.

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Who would I pick for that 1st game against India? We’ll after giving it some thought; my first 11 batting order would look like this:

Smith, Amla, Ingram, de Villiers, Duminy, du Plessis, Miller, McClaren, Petersen, Steyn, Morkel.

I have to say that I’m not over the moon about just having 4 bowlers with JP being the 5th bowler and considering how comfortable India is against spin bowling, I was tempted to go with Tsotsi instead of Robby P but all in all, I think the 11 above will be able to beat them. Look, luckily for us (or unluckily depending on how you look at it), that irritating ‘C’ word is as reputable for the Proteas as the word ‘great’ is in Naas Botha rugby’s vocab, so we shouldn’t have as much pressure to win as say host England or other favourites like India or even Sri Lanka. My expectations is therefore not so high however I do have the confidence that we’ve as good a chance as any team to win the ‘ship a second time around.

I’m outy

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