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Cricket Gods Abandon Proteas

How dramatic was that last hour! With only four overs to go, two fatal stabs by a limping Harris delivered the coup de grãce.

The Proteas, in the past, managed to survive and “hang-on” in so many tests that the cricket gods were bound to turn their backs on them at some stage. A pity that it was in the final game for our skipper and fearless leader of almost 12 years, who decided to call it quits.

Many things can be said about Biff – but the facts speak for themselves. He is the most successful test captain in the game’s history. He boasts an average of close to 50 and just over 9250 test runs, not to mention his 27 tons – the most by an international skipper!

Technically he is an ugly batsman but man, he has guts and determination! Traits that can’t be taught! He is far from perfect but a legend in my book, and it was a privilege to follow him and his team for the last 11 something years. Words that I think best describe Biff – Brave, Fearless, Leader – Hero!

The Proteas loss is Surrey’s gain – how ironic that the fierce rivalry in the early days between him and Kevin Pietersen would end up with them both playing for the same county. All I can say is that I am glad I am not playing against those two! Good luck Biff – all the best and thank you!

But to get back to the test series – the difference between the sides were Johnson & Warner – and I would go as far as saying that Warner was the main difference – he scored runs at will! This, plus the fact that the Proteas were under-prepared, especially our attack, led to our downfall. The balance in the side was wrong and it didn’t help that we played with 10 men in the field on 2 occasions when first Parnell and then Steyn broke down. The planning and preparation by CSA for this series let them down! And yes, the shortened Indian series didn’t help either.

In his final series Smith did make one huge mistake but, as mentioned before, he was not perfect. Putting the Aussies in to bat at Centurion, for whatever reason, was the difference in the outcome of this series.

Losing the toss in the final test could not be helped, but once again the cricket gods did not assist. Batting on a flat track, the Aussies found the going easy, apart from the pleasure of seeing Clark being bullied by Morkel! On the 3rd morning, the weather changed and with moisture in the air, Clarke declared and suddenly the ball started swinging after going gun barrel straight the first two days. Before the Proteas knew it, they were 140 odd for 6 – and the damage done. Reaching 287 was a massive task by the tail-end batsmen. What followed next was that the Proteas got Warnered! Yes that mouthy Aussie walked the talk and absolutely belted the attack all over Newlands, scoring yet another century at a run a ball! With scoreboard pressure of 511 in 4 and a bit sessions – The Proteas were always going to be up against it.

The boys did go down fighting though, and for that alone – apart from all the mistakes, dropped catches, crappy shots and long hop bowling, we need to give them credit. Close but no cigar! Well done Aus. Now get on your bikes and go home – your behaviour still stinks.

Super 15 Roundup

Reds/Cheetahs

The news of the departure of Coenie Oosthuizen is a big blow to the Cheetahs and the Springboks. He has suffered neck injuries in the past, and I really hope that it can be sorted out properly before he returns to the fray.
As far as the match goes, I have no doubt that the Free State side will provide a much better performance after their lacklustre performance last week, but whether they will be able to overcome a well-balanced Reds side, remains to be seen. Defence will be key against the genius of the Reds halfbacks. Intelligent attacks, rather than intuitive ones, will breach the defence of the Reds. Ons hou styf duim vas manne.

Crusaders/Stormers

A colleague commented last week that the Crusaders lose their first three matches every year. For the sake of the Stormers, I hope that history repeats itself this weekend. The visitors have not had a storming beginning to the season, and disruptions due to injury contributed to their woes. Facing two All Blacks at lock is possibly the single biggest threat, and most of their supporters wouldn’t mind seeing them Cape Town based side reverting to their dour game plan of previous seasons until such time as they are playing as a unit again.

Bulls/Blues

After thrashing the Crusaders last week, the Auckland side is brimming with confidence, and the Bulls will have their hands full containing them. The home side certainly showed huge improvement last week, with a flyhalf capable of executing their game plan. Playing at Fort Loftus is always a bonus in their favour, but be prepared for a brutal encounter.

Sharks/Lions

This is the only game where one can, with certainty, predict a win for a South African side. Hopefully, the Sharks are not as over-confident as some of their fans (nudge-nudge, wink-wink, Tony!).

The selection of Elton Jantjes ahead of Marnitz Boshoff, who moves to fullback, indicates that the Lions will play a running game.

The weatherman predicts possible thunderstorms for Saturday evening. Add to this the dew factor, plus how the Lions battled in the wet last weekend, and it becomes difficult, even for the most ardent Lions fan, to understand the strategy, or foresee a victory for the visitors.

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