Proteas Injured in ODI Series, Literally

A look at where South Africa and India stand in the current ODI series two matches in.

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MATCH ONE: THURSDAY, 1st FEBRUARY 2018

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A commanding victory with India in complete control throughout.  Image from: indianexpress.com

The hype had been brought up by fans. Could the starting eleven for each game bring in an idea as to what team Cricket South Africa selectors could go with in the World Cup next year (provided no players take the dreaded Kolpak deal out of nowhere)? Personally, I was looking forward to this series, not only did I manage to get my Pink Day tickets early, but I could start looking forward to picking my dream eleven for the World Cup in England I am breaking my back to save up for… and I genuinely enjoy ODIs a lot.

South Africa won the toss and bat first in Kingsmead: a ground in which many believe should no longer host cricket matches. I won’t give my opinion on that anytime soon. Major loss to the Proteas is losing AB to an injured finger, therefore having him sit out for the first three games of the series. Although, it’s not injured enough that he can play golf… moving on.

The hosts’ top six gave the same problems of not scoring enough runs to have the lower order worry if the next number of runs is crucial enough to win the match. We had Morris and Phehlukwayo contributing more of a partnership as well as runs than de Kock did. At the end of SA’s batting innings, a decent 269-8 was made thanks to Faf’s 120. India needed 270 to draw first blood in the series.

The men in blue managed to chase the total relatively easily with five overs to spare and six wickets in hand after Phehlukwayo took two wickets of Kohli (112) and Rahane (79). It was not enough to fix the damage that was South Africa’s under-par bowling and less than impressive bowling. Kohli took win him a man of the match century which boosted his team 1-0 in the six match.

India needs to win the series 4-2 or better to overtake the Proteas in rankings to become number one.

 

MATCH TWO: SUNDAY, 4th FEBRUARY 2018

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Caught out! South Africa’s top six failed to get a start to result to produce a comeback win. Image from: hindustantimes.com

More bad news strikes the Proteas camp, with Captain Faf being ruled out for the remainder of the India tour because of an injured finger. While some Indian fans were rejoicing at this news, it made me say to myself: if they are rejoicing so much for Faf and AB’s injuries, it shows how much faith they have in their own side in these conditions. That thought quickly went out of my mind the minute this match ended.

Aiden Markram, whom has some experience captaining a national squad, was boldly placed as interim captain for the rest of the ODI series. Heinrich Klaasen, Khaya Zondo and Farhaan Behardien were called up into the squad should anymore injuries occur. Two changes were made to the eleven, with Zondo as well as Tabraiz Shamsi for Faf and Phehlukwayo.

India had won the toss, and opted to bowl first. If there is any evidence that the Proteas struggle with even the slightest hint of spin, this match would have be the perfect case study in any textbook. Silly shots were played all around, but also credit should go to the Indian bowlers for producing some movement in a pitch that is not notorious for a lot of spin. It managed to make the SA batters’ heads spin, which lead to the oh-so-predictable collapse of the Proteas seeing them at 107-6 in the 28th over. The top six had failed again. Miller had failed to get a good score again. He may average 50 in limited over games, but right when his team needed him to step up as ‘Killer Miller’ he failed to make it his time. 118 was the total scored before South Africa were bowled out, with five wickets going to Yuzvendra Chahal. A bizarre call had been made by the match referee to call lunch when India needed two more runs to win. One more thing that showed how fed up Proteas fans are with inconsistent performances could also be how fans left the stadium, and how many remained to watch the last two runs to be scored. India managed to steamroll the hosts, chasing down 119 with ease and only losing one wicket.

Currently sitting 2-0 in the series, India will be sitting pretty for the next game tomorrow (Wednesday 7 February at 1pm local time). South Africa will be wondering what went wrong within the team and what can be done in terms of having the right combinations. They will be missing de Kock due to wrist injury, meaning Klaasen will definitely play. To keep Miller in the eleven and not put Behardien in the mix will be a decision on blind faith in that the teams needs to bounce back in order to win the series and retain the number one ranking. Is this really our best effort with the bat and ball? If so, we could crash out of the World Cup next year before knock-out rounds even start. This lacklustre performance should be a wake-up call to everyone in the Proteas set up. Stop blaming the pitches, control the controllables. If you want to be world class, you must learn to adapt, adapt quickly.

 

Giddy Ngidi Gets Six on Debut

It definitely is a bowling partnership that Protea fans can witness for a long time – hoping that injuries stay away and consistency stays.

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An impressive start into test cricket for debutant Lungi Ngidi as he got a six-for, ending the match on 7-90. Image: hindustantimes.com

Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada lit up the fans of the Proteas with the scorecard come the end of the second innings, as they were involved in taking the last ten wickets South Africa needed to take an unassailable 2-0 lead into the test series. Many would have hoped that the wicket of Centurion would have been a traditional fast bowlers’ paradise; what was prepared was something not totally unplayable, but suited maybe for the spinners. Some would say it was suited more for the Indian batsmen more than the Proteas.

Not much to can be said about the second match. I personally found it to be lacking in the intensity that was shown in the first game. Still a very interesting one to watch, but the intent that India wanted to show may have backfired against them.

As the toss occurred, news had been that Faf requested his men to bat first as well as have Ngidi debut at his home ground in Centurion. South Africa made 335 all out, with Aiden Markram top scoring with 94 before being caught out. Hashim Amla scored second highest with 82 but was then run out. After AB had gone out, Faf was left to watch two of his batting partners (de Kock and Philander) fall cheaply before the end of day one. Day two started with Faf and Maharaj playing to make a good enough score, with massive help from the lower order to keep the tail wagging slightly to make a semi-decent 335.

With India batting just after lunch, they had been going steadily until Morkel took a great catch off his own bowling. Minutes later, a second had fallen as the debutant Ngidi had run Pujara out for a golden duck, leaving India on 28-2. Captain Kohli had to come and make a decent partnership with opener Vijay to put pressure on the hosts. Vijay fell just before the two reached an 80-run partnership. India had ended their batting innings on day three in the session after lunch, with Kohli putting in a magnificent captain’s knock of 153 runs.

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Intent and aggression was showed when Virat Kohli made 153 in the first innings. Image: kyrosports.com

SA were to start their second innings with a 28-run lead, and had all sorts of trouble losing two early wickets of Amla and Markram, needing Elgar and AB to rescue the batting with a decent partnership. Stumps was called early on day three due to heavy rains and bad lighting.

Day four started as day three had ended, with SA increasing their lead at a tenacious rate, with runs being scored as a snail high on sleeping tablets. The pitch was going more and more in favour of the bowlers, but not being particularly impossible to play on as the Proteas had made 287 all out, with AB scoring an important 84. The South African bowlers had a day and a session to take ten wickets and defend 287 runs for the series win.

The last innings in which India needed to bat to level the series proved to be quite the interesting one, as the battle between bat and ball had started as an intense one, until Rabada and Ngidi started making inroads within the last session of day four: Rabada had bowled Vijay for 9, and Ngidi getting KL Rahul caught for four. Ngidi had been slightly unlucky in getting the wicket of Captain Kohli in the first innings, but definitely had a delivery that had his name on it. The big wicket of Kohli was Ngidi’s for the taking, and was trapped plumb lbw for 5. Indeed a wicket he will remember for a long time. Stumps had been called on day 4, with South Africa needing seven more wickets and India needing 252 more runs for victory.

Many would say that day five was definitely in South Africa’s court after getting Kohli out. True, but they still had to get the wickets of Pujara, Pandya and Ravi Ashwin who boasts relatively good averages with the bat. Ngidi and Rabada kept chipping away at the wickets in good fashion to keep India out of the game for sure. Speaking on run outs, from both teams in both innings, there had been a total of five run outs. Of those five run outs, two had gone to Pujara, as he was run out for 19 in the second innings attempting to run three.

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South Africa will be hoping to keep up the momentum when they arrive for the final clash at the Bull Ring this Wednesday. Image: cricketaddictor.com

The man of the match went to Lungi Ngidi, making him the seventh Protea to be given this award on debut. The last match in the test series is to take place at the Wanderers on Wednesday the 24th of January.

My play of the match most definitely went to the two quicks in Rabada and Ngidi taking nine of ten of the wickets to win the match and series for South Africa. It definitely is a bowling partnership that Protea fans can witness for a long time – hoping that injuries stay away and consistency stays. Now the SA selectors have to look at the type of wicket at the Bull Ring and consider the eleven to go into that match to hopefully clinch a whitewash. Will they still make do with four fast bowlers, or bring in de Bruyn and/or in place of a quick?  Or will Maharaj be dropped? Will Markram be available for the last test? He missed fielding in the last innings after sustaining a quad strain. The starting eleven may change for the last game, but hopefully nothing too drastic in that they would want to keep their ruthless mentally and go for the whitewash.

Newlands Test Tug-O-War, Proteas Victorious

This was definitely a test match to be remembered had the result gone either way. It was a match in which the bowlers from both teams performed magnificently.

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Philander took a career best 6-42 to bowl the Proteas to victory. Image: cricketaddictor.com

A series that Indian and South African fans had been waiting for finally has started; and what a test match it was. Having high expectations for the series, this test definitely showed that cricket fans are definitely in for a treat. It is the first match of the tour, and it has already had more action than the whole Ashes series.

The build up going into the game had Cricket South Africa and the ground staff at Newlands making sure that there was a substantial amount of green on the wicket: this being for the hope that the Proteas starting line up would have the four-pronged pace attack of Steyn, Rabada, Morkel, and Philander. With the dreadful drought in Cape Town at the moment, rain dances would have been performed before the match in hope of getting some green on the wicket.

The biggest shock may have been Faf’s decision to bat first at the toss, especially looking back at how much emphasis had been placed on the pitch and how it would work in favour of the South African bowlers. Most would have jumped at the opportunity to bowl first.

With the Proteas batting first, they had seen themselves batting with caution due to Elgar, Markram and Amla’s wickets falling to have the scorecard at 12-3. AB and Faf put on a helpful partnership which saw them both achieve their half centuries. Eventually the batsmen managed to put 286 runs on the board before being bowled out. It was time to see the bowlers put in their magic in the field.

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Hardik Pandya was the pick of the Indian players for his 94 runs and 3 wickets in the first match. Image: timesofindia.com

India found themselves at 92-7, before being rescued by Pandya and Kumar putting on a very handy 99-run partnership to bring India to 209 before being bowled out. This gave Faf’s men a lead of 77 that could have been more.

Starting the second innings was a rocky one for South Africa, losing two quick wickets to Pandya just before stumps on day two. Day three was washed out, which was a much needed downpour (even though some people said the rain was being a pain).

Day four started with Amla and night-watchman Rabada at the crease on 59-2. Wickets falling quickly saw the Proteas on 130-9, before AB was caught at the boundary rope trying to go for a maximum. The fight back needed by SA pacers was always going to be a tough ask as they were a bowler short (Steyn ruled out of the test series for four-six weeks due to a bruised heel) and only having to defend 208 runs.

Wickets were falling coming at a smooth rate thanks to Morkel and Philander, leaving India three wickets down with 39 on the board when Indian captain Virat Kohli came on to bring the victory to his camp. A partnership worth a meagre but worrying 32 came to an end when Philander bowled Captain Kohli out for 28. Elation was shown from the Proteas and supporters knowing how important his wicket was. Sharma was offered a lifeline when Maharaj dropped a sitter off his bat, only to chop a delivery off Philander onto his stumps. The Indian star of the first innings in Pandya had hopes to replicate his 93 to bring India back into the game. He was caught by AB for 1 an over after Sharma’s dismissal.

A partnership of 49 between Ashwin and Kumar kept the Indian tail wagging, before Philander starred again, breaking their partnership at 49 and claiming Ashwin’s wicket. The last two wickets were picked up in the 42nd over, giving Philander a career best of 6-42.

South Africa won by 72 runs, bowling out the visitors for 135 runs. They are now 1-0 up in the three-match series. This was definitely a test match to be remembered had the result gone either way. It was a match in which the bowlers from both teams performed magnificently. My own gripe with the match is how the Protea bowlers could have wrapped up the innings a lot quicker than they did, for they let the tail wag a little more than they should have. Now what will be discussed is who will replace Dale Steyn in the squad. Go with an all-rounder? Bring back Temba Bavuma or Theunis de Bruyn? Or will they bring in an out-and-out pacer in Lungi Ngidi?

Ottis ‘Give ’em Hope’ Gibson’s Influence

It may be early to give praise to Gibson, but I just think of how long it would have been until all the young players in the Proteas would have gotten their call-up if still under Domingo.

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Bring in the younger youngsters. Image: sportsnewsonweb.com

Now I personally did not want to speak on the appointment of Gibson as soon as it was announced. I am someone who does always want to see how a person adapts to a position, while they have all the necessary credentials after giving them that little bit of time. Pre-judgements are just not something I do. Hence the delay in my opinion on Gibson’s new position in the Proteas camp. How was he going to stamp his presence in this team? I wanted to wait and see until after the Bangladesh tour, but I couldn’t wait.

His appointment was one that did cause some debate as many did not know how a bowling coach would be anything but great after Russell Domingo was, essentially, given the boot by Cricket South Africa. His release then brought around the debate as to who would take his place. A local coach like Geoffrey Toyana of the bizhub Highveld Lions? Or an international coach like… an Australian? Naturally there were mixed reviews when Gibson landed the job ahead of Toyana who many had thought was a likely possibility.

So here we are.

I am so glad I waited to speak on his inclusion, and that’s because I noticed that there’s a change in attitude. I feel that the team that was booted out of the Champions Trophy that played the annoyingly safe brand of cricket has grown a slight bit of confidence and ruthlessness in their game. Albeit the Proteas are pummelling the daylights out of the out-of-our-comfort-zone Bangladesh side, there have been some performances by the team, and calls by the coach that bring back that essence of hope and depth in the squad.

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Future match winners. Image: alchetron.com

This tour was a great one for Gibson to explore with the upcoming talent that is in the domestic setup in the country. For him to go to a few Sunfoil Series matches really does show that he aims to take the Proteas to greater heights. He has deemed all the tours they play as preparation for the World Cup in 2019. Since his arrival, South Africa has unearthed a long-term prospect in Aiden Markram opening with Dean Elgar in the test side, and a definite choice batsman in ODIs. He still has age on his side as he is still 23. Him being the captain that steered his Under-19 teammates, like Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada and Jason Smith, to World Cup victory makes him a future prospect for a captain once the ‘Over-30 Generation’ in the squad announce their retirement. If you think he is still too young to be considered a captain, remember that he currently captains the Multiply Titans in the domestic competitions, and one former great captain of Graeme Smith was appointed as captain at the age of 22.

Wiaan Mulder is also someone who has impressed Coach Gibson as well, seeing as he made his debut at the expense of Wayne Parnell getting injured. Many think Mulder is too young as well, and I am one of them. However, I can see why Gibson brought him into the squad. He’s to soak up all the experience around him and use it to grow and get better. Honestly, his debut could have gone a lot better than it did, but in him getting a wicket is at least the first step to many more. I believe him, Dwaine Pretorius, and Phehlukwayo are the ones to watch in terms of them being game-changing all-rounders for the Proteas going further.

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Ngidi will definitely make an international comeback. Image: twitter.com

If I am on the same wavelength as Gibson, he should want to bring Lungi Ngidi back into the Proteas eleven once India arrives in the country. He had been off team sheets due to a back injury he sustained with the South Africa ‘A’ squad back in June. Upon his return to domestic cricket, he managed to take 9 wickets bowling for the Titans in the Sunfoil Series. He had made a huge shout for being called up for the Proteas during his stint against Sri Lanka earlier in the 2016 home season until an abdominal injury crept in. Now that he is back, Cricket South Africa has got to manage him well if we are to even get a glimpse of him and Rabada possibly bowling together against India. A bowling line-up consisting of Rabada, Ngidi, Philander, and a Dale Steyn that is 160% fit? Let your imagination run wild with that thought.

 

It may be early to give praise to Gibson, but I just think of how long it would have been until all the young players in the Proteas would have gotten their call-up if still under Domingo. We are set for exploring depth and getting the young guys ready for the day they make the Proteas eleven more frequently.

Problems with Having Many Players Over 30

We need the selectors to have more faith and more guts in bringing in these young players to play for the country if, Heaven forbid, all our legendary players retire in quick succession.

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These are the greatest, but great doesn’t last forever. Image: zeenews.india.com

Why do South African sports teams have a tendency of fielding a lot of players that are old? This may sound strange, but what I mean is why is South Africa one of the only sports teams to have many players that are older than 30 in the squad? This is not only in cricket; but also in hockey, soccer, rugby, you name it. The SA hockey teams (both men and women) have players that have 190+ caps to their names, while playing overseas in Belgium, Australia or Holland, and are now struggling to find players older than 18 but younger than 25 to play internationally for a good 7-8 years – starting your international career at 18 is still too young, but having many players over 30 in your squad is a problem when they have to retire either voluntarily or through injury. The same can be said about rugby.

If we are to look at cricket specifically, a lot of players in the Proteas have the thought of retirement in their minds, and that’s all good considering how long some have been playing for South Africa. But how many are we talking here? Well, we have Steyn, Amla, du Plessis, de Villiers, Philander, Morkel, Tahir, and Duminy. That’s three players short of a whole squad. Now I understand that these guys bring so much experience into the team, and they have that presence that makes the opposition quake in their boots, but the reality is that they are going to leave international cricket soon (and very soon), and we need players to come in and step up.

Cricket South Africa has had this trend of not bringing in players with the talent into the squad as soon as they can, and will rest key players then give the rookies a chance. Who’s going to guide them going into that series/match? David Miller? Farhaan Behardien? That’s a serious lack of experience. CSA cannot be having players from the domestic side making their debut internationally at 33 when you have a 22 year old opener waiting in the wings. The England T20 squad in the World T20 last year had a young, but extremely experienced side that had players not older than 29, as I heard a commentator say. England is bringing in players (albeit most aren’t even from England) from a young age when they know they will have an impact on the team. Why can’t CSA do the same?

This past series where SA played England was a disaster; having a middle order change multiple times, batting order collapses where bowlers start doing the top 6’s job in digging us out of trouble, bowlers getting no-ball wickets and no-balls in general, and many other catastrophic moments. Having Heino Kuhn debut may have been based on his scores during the SA ‘A’ tour to England, but he failed to produce the goods when needed. Stephen Cook is making a case for himself to be brought back into the Proteas set up, but is it wise for a 34 year old to replace a 33 year old? Majority of the time, it was senior players that played off-key in the series. Many fans think that SA cricket is in trouble when they see the likes of Amla, du Plessis, or Morkel fluff up during a series. We have many other players that are coming through the system, but whenever SA ‘A’ plays one bad match, many are quick to say our cricket is doomed.

We need the selectors to have more faith and more guts in bringing in these young players to play for the country if, Heaven forbid, all our legendary players retire in quick succession.

My pick of players, whether they’ve played for the Proteas or not, in the next two years to watch out for:

  • Khaya Zondo
  • Lungi Ngidi
  • Wiaan Mulder
  • Aiden Markram
  • Reeza Hendricks (consistency is key)
  • Duanne Olivier
  • Andile Phehlukwayo
  • Jason Smith
  • Dane Paterson
  • JJ Smuts (he’s 28 currently, but still has a lot to offer)

I hope CSA realise this soon, and do not wait until it’s too late to bring these guys in and not have to deal with a gaping hole in the starting eleven.

 

Jennings Didn’t Slip Through the System

All I’m saying is that quota targets can be a good thing sometimes: they help actually discover more talent than you thought you had in the cricket setup

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Not an issue that Jennings had decided to pursue greener pastures in England. Image: oddreaders.com

Now before you get the idea that I’m a part of the crowd that thought that Keaton Jennings’ century was fantastic against India and that he was set for life, I actually wasn’t. Unfortunately the Corker Yorker blog did not exist at that time, so no views could have been spoken of when it happened.

I’m genuinely someone who tries to play devil’s advocate when it comes to cricket and players making their debuts or coming back into form. I definitely do not believe that because someone scored 50 off 38 balls in one match after a string of ducks and golden ducks is back to their prime state of form. If they can do that for five innings straight (depending on the format), then they are truly back on form. Feel free to disagree though.

The main focus of this short article is to focus very briefly on Keaton Jennings. As most know, he is the son of Ray Jennings who played first class cricket for South Africa. He had captained the South African U19 team in 2011 on a tour to England. He played his last Gauteng game in South Africa in March 2012. When he arrived a month later, he spent the next four years playing domestically until he got his call up. He made his debut for the England squad in 2016 in India where he scored a century in the first innings and a duck in the second.

There was a tweet by Jacques Kallis discrediting the politics in South Africa which had infiltrated into the cricket, which was draining the talent here. He had also stated that “another one had slipped through the system”. Now, Kallis is a legend, but that statement was a little… strange. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if an opening batsman who only averaged around 35 was handed a cap to play for the country, it would have been deemed more an experiment to see how they would fair internationally rather than for his talent. I would have been very surprised to see Cricket South Africa give Jennings one if he stayed. He was not doing anything spectacular here, so his migration to England is not a real loss for SA cricket. We’re still trying to figure out whether or not AB’s coming back to test cricket, and if Duminy’s test days are done.

This test series has not been an easy one for the opening batsmen – both English and South African batsmen have struggled against the new ball, barring Dean Elgar and Alistair Cook. Jennings, however, has only managed to score into double digits twice in the six innings he’s played, often getting nicked off to the slips. He had no idea where his off-stump is, which makes the bowlers, Philander especially, hungry to cash in on his wicket. It looked like Cook didn’t have any faith in him either, as he refused to rotate the strike in the beginning of the first innings in the third test. It was only when Tom Westley had come to the crease, did these two rotate the strike better.

His previous records internationally are just as poor. He’s only scored one 50 and one century in ten innings, with an average of 25.90 and a strike rate of 44.27. That’s his whole international test career! If anyone in the Proteas team, or any other team for that matter had stats like those, they would have been dropped. Many debutants underestimate the massive change from playing domestically to internationally, and their technique is getting uncovered.

He may have scored 48 in the third test match against South Africa in this series, but that means nothing if he cannot follow through in the next game. Internationally, we don’t know what an in-form Keaton Jennings is like.

So, I ask you cricket fans in South Africa, or anywhere else in the world: is Jennings really a loss in South African cricket? All I’m saying is that quota targets can be a good thing sometimes: they help actually discover more talent than you thought you had in the cricket setup. Not everyone agrees with the targets, and that’s fine, but don’t go and state that the loss of a mediocre player is someone who has “slipped through the system”.

 

 

 

 

Devil’s Advocate on Player Selection

With the contrasting conditions in international cricket and domestic cricket, it’s easy to perform well in the latter.

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Let’s take time to think of something before discussing nothing. Image: indianexpress.com

As the strangely open-minded person that I am, I’m always having scenarios play in my head about things that could happen if they went which-ever way. That means that I’ll hear someone’s argument to something I totally disagree on and see that their way of thinking can make sense, in a weird way. Sometimes, this can be a disadvantage in having an opinion and not changing it.

Recently, I was having a discussion on Twitter with two people on where Quinton de Kock should bat in the test format. His attacking nature and ability to score runs when needed is one that is extremely valued and appreciated in the Proteas team. Now these tweeps I was conversing with were sure that he should bat at 4 because of his runs-churning way of playing, but I disagreed. He is too valuable of a player to have higher than 6 if the top order has a collapse, and then has no time to rest before going to keep wicket. Who bats, if Quinny is at 7, after him? Philander? If the top six only manages to get 175-6 in the first innings to put up a total, it will be QdK and Vernon trying to rescue the innings, for sure. But what if QdK was batting higher up and Bavuma went out slightly cheaply? Vernon would end up batting with the tail. I was convinced that he should bat higher up, up until this third test match against England. If we are to place him any higher, the highest should be 5 or 6. Him being an attacking player in a spot where you need to grind it out if the opening pair go out is a little too risky, in my opinion. If a collapse happens and he’s part of the top 4, there is a valuable player gone out.

Another thing I’ve seen amongst Twitter fans is how we (yes, I do it too, but I’ve tried not to) say one thing when things are going well about a certain player/players, but call for his/their head when they play appallingly. Now, I will say that I often eat slices of humble pie to feed a family of sextuplets, hence now I try look at things more objectively. One thing I’ve realised, clearer that ever, is that Sunfoil Series (four-day domestic cricket in South Africa) and international cricket are EXTREMELY difficult. And the reason a lot of the players do well there is because the players in that set up are, with all possible respect, are not international level yet which makes them a lot easier to face… especially if they have been playing for a club for a number of years. Hence the problem we face with Heino Kuhn now. He is extremely talented, and many people were calling for him to play in the test squad as far as last year August against New Zealand for the misplaced two-test series in South Africa. Now that he’s in the squad, he isn’t really making an overly amazing impression; there are calls for the young Aiden Markram to replace him. But, what if he too does not live up to our expectations of him and goes out for less than ten if he debuts in the last match of this series? Should he also get dropped because he’s not good enough? If not, should we not take the same approach when looking at Kuhn and be more patient?

The CSA selectors, bless them, are also now in the firing line for the performances of the team. For example; the selection of Chris Morris over Dwaine Pretorius is one that is being talked about often. Personally, I didn’t have any expectation of him in this series because I know how erratic and expensive he can be. Don’t get me wrong; the guy’s got pace and skill and bowls a mean yorker, good with the bat at the back-end of an innings, but he’s too all over the place when bowling, and expensive. And he also selected because of his ability to bat with the tail. In this series, he’s yet to prove it. What the sad thing is, I had a feeling he would perform like this in the series. So I was secretly hoping de Bruyn would come back in the side, as it wasn’t really fair for him to get the chop in that game or this one. It would have been extremely great for Pretorius to play in this tour, but one cannot guarantee for sure that he would have made many dents in the England batting line-up. We’ll never know, sure, but it’s pretty unfair to assume he would and then fans become disappointed with him and say he’s not international standard if he performs below-par. I am a very big fan of Pretorius, but we cannot be sure he would have been selected in the first eleven, let alone a key player in the line up.

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Good in patches, but Morris is not really good for tests. Image: cricbuzz.com

I can understand why CSA would not field more than one debutant in the eleven as opposed to Australia and England. However, what may work for other countries may not work us, too. You want to field your best eleven with players that have faced against tough opposition. With that being said, I get that you would want to see how new players fair in the international circuit, but when I think of that, I think immediately back to the Sri Lanka 3-match T20 series. We gave more than four guys a debut in each team, with Lungi Ngidi being the only permanent prospect to play for South Africa. We lost that series 2-1, and deservedly so. In those games, we had players pay poor shot selection, dropped catches, and missed run-outs. It may not seem like a valid example because of the cries for international T20 series to be scrapped, but it’s still something to think about in terms of selecting many debutants in a match/series. CSA should think a little more in terms of what they want from the team when selecting one, apart from just winning. Do they want to just win to heighten our chances at moving to number 1 in rankings, or do they want that to happen while given guys the experience they need for the future?

This article is not meant to pick and choose a side in the way things are being discussed, but more to say let’s look at both sides of the story before we cast major judgement. If the pros out-weight the cons, then great; if not, then okay.