“It doesn’t count as a win, because the best players aren’t there.”
“How do you expect not to beat a Z-grade team like this one?”
“Well, for sure if Tom, Dick and Harry were in the squad, they would have won.”
“It doesn’t matter because for a fact we would win if we had these players here.”
Unfortunately though, scorecards and record books don’t really state who was in that playing XI, but that the collective playing XI, whichever country it is, lost to another team by however how many wickets or runs. We just need to accept that reality that whether it’s for or against us, a win is a win. If anything, a bitter supporter would just try to cover up that the favoured team played poorly.
I’ll give a prime example of the ODI whitewash Australia were dealt when they came to South Africa in late September. It was more or less common knowledge that a number of their players, including Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood, and James Faulkner were not going to be in that ODI series due to being rested for their upcoming test series against South Africa. In Starc’s case though, he fell during a training session and sustained a really nasty cut on his leg, he needed stitches and a leg brace – the lot. So even if Starc was chosen in the squad, he was not going to be able to play anyway. Faulkner, to my knowledge, was also injured. So when that ODI series came around, Australia arrived with a slightly undercooked bowling line up.
While they did have a below par bowling attack, you would expect that the rest of the players that were selected (Steve Smith, David Warner, Usman Khawaja who didn’t even play a single game, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Aaron Finch, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Marsh, and John Hastings) would have stepped up. There are already a few players whom have had their fair share of international experience to guide and lead three inexperienced bowlers in the side. This did not happen, and the bowling suffered, and as well as the batting for some reason. My real response to those that were discrediting South Africa of the 5-0 whitewash is that you should be worried when a whole team’s all-round performance is dependent on two people. That if these two players in Starc and Hazelwood are not there, the team should soldier on with players that are there. It is not anyone’s fault that Australia chose to rest these players at that time.
Bear in mind as well that the very same South African team dismantled Australia in their backyard by winning that test series 2-1 even with Starc and Hazelwood in the team. South Africa themselves were missing key contributions from Temba Bavuma, Hashim Amla whom lacked form, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and AB due to injury. Does this mean that South Africa was just outstanding throughout that tour? People tried to justify this series win on a sweet.
Another example is the T20 series between South Africa and Sri Lanka. I’m also calling out to South African fans here. Sri Lanka brought in their national squad against a very young South African T20 squad with key players rested for the upcoming ODI series that ended in a whitewash for South Africa. The only players who were not rested were Imran Tahir, David Miller, Farhaan Behardien who also was named captain, Wayne Parnell, and AB de Villiers in the third match. Up to six debutants played in that T20 series with one win coming from it for the Proteas. If anything, Sri Lanka could have won 3-0 if it weren’t for the quick wickets taken in that match by the Proteas. A lot of people were saying that even though Sri Lanka won, it didn’t really count or matter because of the number of debutants in the squad, but is that not an insult to Sri Lanka that you will send a team of inexperienced players and still expect to win?
It showed that the South African coaching staff kind of did because Coach Russell Domingo walked into the press conference after the third game smiling. Did anyone except the Sri Lankans not take that series seriously? While I may be slating the fact that not many people took this win seriously and didn’t give the respect towards Sri Lanka that was deserved, when else can you really rest your top performers especially with the England tour and Champions Trophy coming up? But Sri Lanka’s series win should not have been stated as “Sri Lanka won against a C-grade SA team.” They won the series. Full stop.
My last example is the recently concluded T20 series between Sri Lanka and Australia. Understandably, Australia’s best men were sent to India for an upcoming test series there, and this T20 series was scheduled to conclude the day before the team had to leave for India. Poor scheduling already on Cricket Australia’s part. But Sri Lanka, again, dominated the series to win 2-1. A historical series win was overshadowed by comments stating that the series win was because of a very inexperienced Australian squad. It is common knowledge that Australia have devastatingly great players, young and old, in the ranks to be in the national squad so it was initially a shock to me, at least, that they still got thumped in the T20s against Sri Lanka. While T20 series wins are not really important right now because there is no T20 World Cup coming up and more focus is on Tests and ODIs this year, credit still needs to be given where it’s due. And the sooner we learn and understand that, the less we will have to congratulate with an insult on the side.