Epic, if short, series for SA

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iol spt jan2 Jacques

Reuters

Victory over India proved just how good this Protea team are as they managed the emotion of Kallis retirement. Photo by: Rogan Ward

The South African cricket team have another frustrating five-week break that they neither want nor need.

The last month has seen the side showing progress in the One-Day game, while the Test team continue to underline just what a class act they are. Given the quality and drama of the two Tests with India, more is the pity that a proper series wasn’t allowed to unfold. Petty and ridiculous fighting amongst administrators of the two boards has robbed South Africans and the wider cricket-watching public of some terrific cricket.

Yes, Cricket South Africa did cower to the Board of Control for Cricket in India, but the final decision on a restricted tour was a realistic one – rather have some money coming into the coffers than none at all. As for the BCCI, they need to wake up and realise that cricket isn’t football, there are only 10 countries that play the sport seriously and only eight of those do so at a sufficiently competitive standard. Undermining cricket nations not named Australia and England, undermines the credibility of the sport.

The BCCI would do well to speak to their young players – the likes of Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara are desperate to stamp their names on the sport and to be mentioned in the same bracket as Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. They certainly batted with the necessary application in the two Tests, but ultimately they ended up achieving the same result as the pair of legends of Indian cricket – losing in South Africa.

The victory in Durban, South Africa’s first Test win at Kingsmead in five years, served as vindication of the decision taken at the Wanderers a week earlier when Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander called off the pursuit of 458 in the final three overs.

The emotional element of the second Test, being Jacques Kallis’ final match, spurred them on, but they never let it overwhelm them, rather they were clinical in the manner in which they executed their plans.

Australia will present a rather different challenge. It’s hard to say if it will be tougher – the Indians were a lot tougher than most probably imagined they would be, especially after the One-Dayers. Australia will arrive here confident given the hammering they’re dishing out in the Ashes.

However, Michael Clarke’s team are not without flaw. How many more times can Brad Haddin dig them out of trouble with bat? And Mitchell Johnson, for all his glorious bowling against the English, can’t be expected to maintain that kind of form here.

It sets up an intriguing series – three Tests, a proper series – especially as South Africa have to find some kind of way to replace one of the greatest cricketers who has played the game.

The most logical scenario at the moment is to move Faf du Plessis to No4 in the batting order and then bring in either Ryan McLaren or Wayne Parnell at No7.

That’s more than a month away, though. For the next few weeks the players will be involved in the RamSlam T20 competition. - The Star


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