South Africa missing twin pillars – Firdose Moonda

Source : http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc-champions-trophy-2013/content/story/634926.html

Just thought I would share this article by the wonderful Firdose Moonda, an excellent piece that gives you a reality check with regards to how important Smith and Kallis are for the Proteas

 

Take 45% away from a house and you could be without the foundations, some of the walls and maybe even the roof. Take 45% out a car and it will be minus the engine, the gearbox and perhaps the safety belts. Take 45% out of South Africa’s one-day squad and it is missing Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis.

Between them, the pair have played 514 ODIs. The remaining squad members have only amassed 652. Had Smith been fit and Kallis not opted out, they would have made up almost half of the experience and would have more games to their name than all the remaining batsmen collectively.

Kallis alone has played more matches than all of the bowlers combined. He would also have been the only man from any squad to play in both the first and last Champions Trophy. He was part of the 1998 South Africa team that won what was then called the Wills International Cup but has not been able to add major tournament silverware to his CV since then.

Neither have South Africa. Now they will attempt to break the 15 year trophy drought without two of their sturdiest pillars. But what do they miss out on besides experience? After all, in 12 tournaments after that – four World Cups, four World Twenty20s and four Champions Trophies – South Africa returned empty handed despite having the services of both Smith and Kallis for all but one event. Smith did not play the last World T20 in Sri Lanka but Kallis was recalled to the format specifically for the competition.

In fact, some of the time the two heavyweights were deemed the cause of the team’s shortcomings at major tournaments, especially the 2007 one. Smith and Kallis were among those accused of being unfit in West Indies and Kallis was blamed for dramatically slowing down the chase in a group stage match against Australia in that World Cup.

But those examples are exceptions. More often than not, the pair are credited for forming the consistent base that has allowed South Africa to win matches and series, albeit not the most important ones.

On reputation alone, they would earn a place in most teams. Kallis’ two-in-one ability has given South Africa what Gary Kirsten often calls a 12th man who does more than carry drinks. Smith has frequently come under the spotlight for being out of form in the 50-over game but he always rectifies that with important innings at important times. Since January last year, he has notched up three half-centuries and two hundreds but it is not the numbers that illustrate his real worth, especially not this time.

It is Smith’s value as a captain without the title that will be missed most because AB de Villiers is still uncertain in the job. De Villiers has admitted he is still finding his feet and that is obvious in some of his decision-making, such as fielding positions and bowling changes. Over the last summer, Smith was obviously assisting him with both despite having relinquished the leadership role after the 2011 World Cup.

 

Graeme Smith swats the ball away to the leg side, South Africa v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Bloemfontein, March 10, 2013

Graeme Smith’s ankle injury strips South Africa’s ODI captain AB de Villiers of a valuable resource © AFP 

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With de Villiers also taking up the wicketkeeping role permanently in ODIs, he needs as much senior counsel as can be provided. In Smith and Kallis he had two of the best. With both gone, he is now the most experienced man left and will have to rely on the willingness of Hashim Amla and instincts of Faf du Plessis to assist where needed.

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