Tuesday, February 24, 2015


 Dear Cricket fans,
         Facing their first serious hurdle at the Cricket World Cup, the Proteas as they some how got called after previously being the Springboks, had to make 308 to beat India. It was a formidable task but not impossible.
         They had almost a cricket team of expert coaches and consultants to advise them so you would have expected, at the very least, that they would have done nothing stupid.
         That’s where you would have been wrong, terribly wrong.
         They batted as if most of them had not got a brain between them.
         Opener Quinton de Kock started with a wild swing at a ball that could easily have had him caught behind the wicket. After a few innocuous shots he sent a soft one into the hands of the opposition and was gone for seven.
         Mr Reliable Hashim Amla, one of the best batsmen in the world in all formats, skied a short ball onto the leg side where he was caught on the boundary for 22. Somebody of his experience should have seen that trap a mile off.
         Faf du Plessis, in at three, who has been out of form lately, played sensibly with wickets falling around him. At 55 off 71 balls he had a brain storm, ran down the pitch and gave the Indians an easy catch.
         Captain AB de Villiers, the top ranked One Day International batsman in the world in 2014, also showed his lack of sensible thought. After a couple of narrow run out escapes he evident believed his speed made him invincible. One risky run too many and he was out for 30 when his team so badly needed a big innings from him.
         JP Duminy, who made a century in the previous match admittedly against lowly Zimbabwe, played possibly the most brainless shot of all. With his score at only six he decided on the most risky shot in cricket – a reverse sweep. As a left hander he was playing the shot as if he was right handed.
         The result was the last of the Proteas' recognised batsmen was back in the pavilion.
         David Miller, one of the top six, who had come in just before Duminy, followed his captain’s bad example and was run out for 22.
         That was effectively the end of the Proteas scoring because the last five players, you couldn’t call them batsmen as the commentators do, made a total of only 28 runs.
         How the South Africa selectors expect to win a world cup with so many players who can’t bat I don’t know. They badly need at least one good all rounder who can bat and bowl reasonably well.
         As it was in this game they relied on Wayne Parnell to fulfil this role. His bowling was hammered for 85 runs at almost 10 an over, nearly twice as many as the next worst bowler. His solitary wicket didn’t alter the fact that his figures were shocking.
         He made 17 not out off 28 balls when the game was already lost. But if he is the best all rounder the Proteas have got it will take a miracle for them to win the Cup.
         To cap this match of brainless play the Proteas were fined 10% of their match fee with captain De Villiers being penalised 20% for badly overrunning the three and a half hours allowed for a side fielding to complete their overs.  
         The Proteas' 130 thrashing was by far their worst performance at a World Cup and the first time they have ever been beaten by more than 100 runs.
         So what was the point of all those advisers? Where were they when the Proteas batsmen lost their minds?
Where were they when the Proteas, named after a hardy wild flower, faded so badly?
         Apart from the Head Coach Russell Domingo they had fielding coach Adrian Birrell; specialist bowling coach Allan Donald; specialist spin bowling coach Claude Henderson as well as former South African batsman Gary Kirsten who was the coach of the World Cup winning Indian team four years ago. He was there as the batting consultant.

         You would think they had enough experts to keep any team on a winning high. But no they had to add retired Australian batting star Mike Hussey as the finishing consultant, whatever that is.
         My suggestion is that this think tank team should play in the next match with some of the best of the Proteas to make up the numbers and we’ll see if they are any good on the field because in the Indian game they were as useless off it as the Proteas were on it.
         Watch out for the West Indies on Friday Proteas. You might have beaten them easily shortly before the World Cup started, but if Chris Gayle and some of their other hard hitting batsmen get going there will be no room for any more mindless cricket.
         Your avid cricket fan
         Jon, who would very much like to see De Villier’s prediction that “We’ll win the World Cup” turned into fact. But on the showing during the India match it will be very much against the run of play unless there is a superhuman improvement.

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