Sport - Ottis Gibson must have been a relieved man after the Proteas were emphatic in their T20 win over India at Centurion recently.

The new man at the helm of the national cricket side cut a dejected and forlorn figure as he watched his charges implode against the Indians in the One-day International series, with the Proteas being taught a right royal lesson. 

There are lessons that SA could learn from the way India approach their cricket in general. 

Perhaps the most important is the depth of talent that the Indians have, compared to just about any cricketing nation. 

The general populous of a country will always be part of this argument, but that is certainly no excuse.

After the first one-day, regular captain Faf du Plessis was ruled out of the series with a finger injury. 

Then, AB de Villiers suffered a similar fate. At this stage, there should have been a number of SA players’ hands shooting up in the air to say ‘pick me’, but Cricket South Africa pondered long and hard before naming replacements. 

You will recall that there was a very long pause before they named Aiden Markram captain for the remaining ODI games. 

Even his elevation to captain the squad raised eyebrows, including those of previous captain Graeme Smith, who questioned the call to hand Markram the captaincy.

The 23-year-old Markram played one ODI before the India series. 

The Proteas went on to suffer a five-one humiliation with Markram contributing just 118 runs in his five innings as skipper. 

Smith, who himself was appointed captain of the Proteas as a 22-year-old in 2003, feels Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers or JP Duminy could have been handed the leadership role so Markram could develop as a batsman. 

Smith also said Markram was let down by the performances of the senior batsmen in the team and added that South Africa needed players to step up and perform.

I was pleased with the performance of Heinrich Klaasen who has been the find of the series for SA. 

The ginger-haired gloveman was up for any challenge and took the game to India’s spinners when everything was falling apart around him. His “Hero in Pink” innings at the Wanderers was one of the few positives to emerge from an otherwise forgettable ODI series for Gibson and the gang. 

So when the boys in the yellow and green equalised the T20 game last Wednesday, there was, quite expectedly, relief from all quarters associated with the national squad.

* Super Rugby is back and is welcomed. Let's hope that this season the SA conference sides do better. 

The Sharks crashed to a losing start last week, playing away to the Lions, but this week they host Australia's Waratahs at the Shark Tank. 

There are 15 teams in the overall conference, with SA represented by the Sharks, Lions, Bulls, Stormers and the Jaguares.

Apart from the Currie Cup, there is plenty of rugby to be played just in the Super 15, with no fewer than 120 matches and seven in the final stages. 

Each team will play eight matches within its conference (four home and four away), eight cross-conference matches - against four of the five teams from each of the other two conferences (four at home and four away) and then each team will play 12 of the other teams within the season (85% of opposition teams which is up from 70% in 2016).

Finally, on the rugby front, I was glad to see that Supersport, in true sporting camaraderie, handed over the radio broadcast ‘rights’ to the SABC for free, this after the public broadcaster bemoaned the lack of funds to purchase outright radio rights for Super Rugby. 

Good on you, Supersport!

* All Formula One teams are busy with pre-season testing with the first race of the year in Melbourne, Australia on March 25. 

As an ardent fan of Formula One, I cannot wait for the season to get under way. 

Lewis Hamilton expects his Formula One rivalry with Sebastian Vettel to become even more intense this season and says he is prepared for anything the Ferrari driver throws at him. 

The battle between the two four-time world champions promises to be the storyline of the season. 

Hamilton came out on top last year, a season that started out in mutual respect before descending into ‘road rage’ and recrimination when they collided in Azerbaijan.

The Briton said the campaign was likely to be closer than ever but he would also be better and spoke of his hunger - even if he still has some weight to lose before the first race - and commitment as well as the joys of his longest break in a decade. 

When asked about possible mind games with Vettel ahead of the season, Hamilton's reply was sharp and apt when he said, “I don't play mind games, I just drive faster.”

* Naresh Maharaj is an MC, radio news and sports editor/ presenter, motoring journalist, member of the SAGMJ, international sports correspondent and Voice-over artist. E-mail: [email protected], twitter: @nmaharaj321, Instagram: maharajnaresh

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