The dullest Test match I’ve had the misfortune of covering took place in Basseterre on the Caribbean island of St Kitts in 2010.
The football World Cup was taking place in South Africa at the same time, so for the cricket to garner any kind of decent attention, the match needed some excitement.
The closest it got to that excitement was when AB de Villiers, upon reaching his century in the first innings, sprinted off the field because he was in desperate need of a toilet break.
Other than that an aggregate of over a 1000 runs was shared between South Africa and the West Indies in their respective first innings in that Test.
An elderly West Indies supporter cornered me in a pub at the end of day four of that match, and explained that he felt South Africa were being boring and lacking in ambition.
“South Africa are a much better team than the West Indies. West Indies haven’t been a good team for 15 years, so you should be smashing them, man. But you bat too slow and bowl too negatively.”
South Africa were leading the three Test series 1-0, with the final match to be played in Barbados.
They didn’t need to push for a win on a flat pitch in St Kitts while 1-0 up and as if to underline that point, went on to win in Barbados and claimed the series 2-0.
But should they have been more ambitious?
That question came back to me as I kept an eye on the match in Harare which concluded on Tuesday. South Africa won by nine wickets in four days.
By most standards, that’s a shellacking. They were dominant, but everyone expected them to be dominant, though they dominated in a way that was far from exciting.
Shaun Pollock, the former captain, explained that he felt South Africa should have been even more ambitious and ruthless.
He seemed to be making the point that South Africa, as the top side in Test cricket, owed it to the format and supporters to play with more flair and adventure.
There can be no escaping the brilliance of many individuals in the South African team – a side still in transition remember.
And as good as Zimbabwe were in that Test, as hard as they fought in conditions suited to their slowing the game down, it felt like South Africa could have and should injected more flair into their play.
That’s not to say they should have been reckless. Perhaps as the players come to terms with a new captain and younger players become more established that will happen.
They owe it to the game after all. Right? - The Star