South Africa’s playing. Yawn!

There are plenty of exciting cricket teams in world cricket today but South Africa is definitely not one of them. Ever since Cronje-gate hit them and they plunged into the depths of match-fixing (one outcome of which has been that Gibbs does not come to play in the subcontinent), they have not been the world beating team they were under Cronje.

Watching them lose miserably to Australia – both in AUS and at home last month – was one thing. It's Australia. But watching them take on New Zealand yesterday in the first Test, was a rather bore. They have no batsmen save Smith and Gibbs who can excite the cricket lover. And I don't mean this only in the slam-bang Dhoni style of batting… there is Dravid who is so correct even in defense and defiance, that it's a pleasure to watch. Instead, SA have the bumbling likes of Ashwell Prince and Jacques Rudolph (so he saved a Test in Australia, but nothing of note since).

An observation of this batting line-up has been that they attack to start with and if that works, all is well. Of course it is. The foundation has been laid and the others can play their natural game and consolidate. But if the openers and #3 don't make enough (which is how it normally is), then the middle order is rather lost. They don't know if they should defend and get set or just attack like cornered fighters. In the end, they do nothing and just try very hard to show as if they want to hit the ball. All they manage are nicks and edges.

At 266-8 after Day 1, SA owe most of these runs to the likes of Pollock and Boucher, but these guys are not going to be around forever. And neither is Kallis. He used to be this destructive batsman who has suddenly, it would seem, discovered the fine art of blocking. Why? I have no idea. But in the end, he has no runs to show for it.

As for their bowling, it's one-dimensional at best. The mercurial and influential Donald lent much firepower and with Pollock, was a destroyer. But Ntini, Nel (who depends more on his facial expressions to scare batsmen into submission) and bowlers like Hall, Steyn and who have you, Boje are rarely going to go through quality sides twice with any regularity.  With all due respect, I agree with what Geoff Boycott had to say about Nicky Boje's bowling: "My mum can bowl better"!

Desperate measures are called for to revive this Test team and I can't help but think it needs to start with the captain who has too much on his plate. Let him develop as a batsman first for there is potential there. He hardly commands any respect on the basis of his performance. It's mostly on position. That can't work… Look at a Ponting, Vaughan, Dravid, Fleming or even Inzamam. These guys command the team's request. He needs to get into this league. And why not Kallis till he is around? I think he would make a fine captain. Worth a try… 

  1. SA’s time will come again. Look at England, they were total crap for years! 🙂

  2. Amen, Haddock! But on current strength, I would say they are the most boring on display!

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