Proteas Dropped the Ball… several times.

Five times is what was counted. It felt like a lot more, some would say, and it probably was a lot more than five. Majority of these dropped catches were sitters. The basics of catching, from what I’ve seen at least, are the ones that could not be caught in last night’s game.

Sri Lanka’s fielding also had several misfields, so the game was more or less spread out evenly with South Africa also having not the best day in the field. South Africa’s batting was pretty average. The batting innings nearly being taken away when two of South Africa’s big hitters in David Miller and the ever-loved Farhaan Behardien went out in close succession by a sloppy shot and an unnecessary run-out respectively. Wicket-keeper and big-hitter for the bizhub Highveld Lions, Mangaliso Mosehle, came to the crease and hit a blitz 32 off 15 fifteen balls saw the Proteas end on 169-5 thanks to a classy 68 by returning batsman, AB de Villiers. An above average score especially on a ground like Newlands; one that can be easily defended, right? Captain Behardien thought so, too.

A couple of slightly expensive overs by Lungi Ngidi and new-bowler Dane Paterson saw Sri Lanka reach the end of the Powerplay 48-1, similar of that to South Africa’s 48-2. Imran Tahir came to the party again, bowling out stand-in captain Dinesh Chandimal for 5, and was the stand-out bowler for the Proteas ending on figures of 3-18. Andile Phehlukwayo was also a slight stand-out for me with his good use of the slower ball to only concede two runs in his third over, which was much needed in order to propel the team to win the match and bowl well at the death.

That would have been the case if catches were taken! Throughout the match, there were an array of dropped catches both by Sri Lankan and South African fielders, and there happened to be many more by the Proteas. As we all know, the team was dealt with a curve-ball in the middle of 2016 by Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula in which he called out for transformation targets to be introduced in cricket, netball, rugby and athletics. It has been met with many people agreeing and disagreeing with the targets, saying that our cricket especially will go to the dogs, or will even end up like Zimbabwe are in terms of their standard of cricket. I am an avid Twitter commentator whenever we play, and enjoy reading the comments of what fellow South African cricket fans have to say, but to go as far as saying that transformation targets was the reason we lost the match is nonsense. Since when does skin colour hinder cricketer’s ability to catch a ball? If I can remember clearly, Dane Paterson, who is white, had about two dropped catches in the game. It was a bad fielding performance all round, regardless. Basically in South Africa, whenever something goes wrong in the cricket, it’s because of transformation and quotas; but whenever something goes very very well, transformation is doing what was intended.

Captain Behardien said in his post-match interview that it was something that happens and is quite common. I don’t know any matches in the history of cricket had that many dropped catches and still expected something good to come out at the end, let alone a hat-trick of dropped catches. While it was his first time captaining a national side, some room for error was expected, but to an extent. Not pushing the team and making them know what was expected on the field and just claiming the dropped catches as something that happens is unacceptable. He, in the meantime is also struggling to get back to his T20 Challenge playing ways. He should have a lot done better. No doubt.

Thankfully, however, Behardien will not captain the One Day side as De Villiers is back. While this series was not an important one for preparation for a World T20, it was one to enhance the depth of our T20 squad for future games. It was also important to give our “first string” players a break from what was a great ending to 2016 and an even better start to 2017 to get the geared up and ready for the upcoming season of great and exciting cricket to be played. Senior players in the T20 squad should have stepped up more, but a possible back-up for Quinton de Kock and a new raw talent in seam bowling were unearthed in Mosehle and Ngidi respectively. South African fans and selectors should only start to panic and worry if the ODI (One Day Internatinal) series does not go according to plan. Until then, let us hope the Proteas go back to training and start with the basics of catching. Catches win matches.

Congratulations must go to Sri Lanka for winning the series 2-1 and to Niroshan Dickwella for getting Man-of-the-Match and Man-of-the-Series awards for being the highest run-scorer in the series with 133 to his name.

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