Bobby Londt reports:
After the epic lesson given at The Oval, the cricketing world keenly awaited the next round of this mini world championship. The second tests starts today at Headingley in Leeds.
I was fortunate enough to attend both the previous Protea tests at Headingley and it is by far my favourite ground. It doesn’t have the stuffy feel of Lords and is definitely more lively than The Oval. The Yorkshire people are a breed apart and the Western terrace is one filled with fun and mischief as banter flies around all day – there is never a dull moment as the Yorkshire folk do like their ale.
The Headingley wicket will benefit our attack more then theirs. Apart from Steyn, who is classy on any wicket, Vernon Philander could be the man who cashes in on this pitch, renowned for having a bit more grass and swing in the right overhead conditions.
AB de Villiers is yet to bat in the series, but his scores in the warm up games indicate that he is ready. As for his glove work, this wicket will be more demanding. JP Duminy is also yet to make an appearance with the bat. I expect a bigger role from him with the ball as the conditions will call for more of a holding job by the spinners, which will be a test for Imran Tahir, who is our main bowler in this department.
England with a new number 6, due to Bopara’s withdrawal, might just seem a bit more fragile then before. Anderson remains the major threat on the bowling front. Swann will be present and Bresnan might feel a bit more at “home” playing at his county ground. Broad, who comes across as a bit of a spoilt brat, is yet to find form, but lets hope it stays away for a bit longer!
Confidence will be high and I am sure the boys will play this one with calculated precision and be ruthless in their application. After all, we do have them in the ideal position and need to push to take advantage.
The battle of the Bulge
Much has been said about the Super 15 Final on Saturday. Very few intelligent people give the Sharks much of a chance, which is possibly an indication that I am lacking in the brains department.
My good friend, Manie, reckons that my nebulous memory is not the forerunner to Alzheimers. He reckons it is more the result of Zonheimers. I’ll drink to that.
Steve Walsh, a recycled Kiwi now living in Australia, appears to have overcome his personal problems and is the man with the whistle on Saturday. I cannot really think of another candidate, and to bring in a ref from the Northern hemisphere at this stage would not be the right thing to do.
As has become the norm, injuries to key players could impact on the result. The Chiefs will be relieved that their inspirational lock and captain, Craig Clarke, passed a late fitness test, allowing them to field an unchanged side.
The Sharks will certainly miss the in-form Whitehead in the crucial centre position. Sonny-Bill Williams needs to be marked closely, and then some. I have given up trying to gauge the chances of the Sharks until they actually run on the pitch. Big Chief Plumtree he speak with forked tongue when it comes to team announcements.
No doubt the selection on the bench will be as crucial as the rest of the team. With Lambie possibly available for selection, one wonders where JP Pietersen will start. He is in such classy form at the moment, he would probably even excel if they picked him at lock.
The biggest challenge, despite the physical miracle, will be the mental game. I read a report written by Paddy Upton, currently with the Proteas in England, about their time with Mike Horne in the Swiss Alps. It helped me realise again just how powerful the human mind can be.
Please click here to read the absorbing report from Upton. It will lift your spirit too.
So yes, I am predicting a Sharks win, despite the voodoo of often being proved wrong. But then, it comes natural to most Stormers supporters, does it not?
Ou Manie vertel van sy pêl oppie Cape Flats wat weet te vertel die Stormers word volgende jaar deur FNB geborg:
F.k.l Niks Biekers.
Slotsin of Twee
Daar gebeur nog baie dinge by die Olimpiese spele, en vandag begin daar ook die groot uitnodigingstoernooi in Akron Ohio waar vier Suid-Afrikaners meeding. Ernie Els, Retief Goosen en Louis Oosthuizen ken die meeste van ons, maar die vierde speler, Oliver Bekker, wenner van die Di-Data toernooi, is minder bekend, maar nie minder bemind hier nie. Sy pa is Hjalmar Bekker, besturende direkteur van Moonstone.
Nou die aand, toe ek sien hoe Chad le Clos se pa die wêreld aangryp met sy vreugde oor sy seun se prestasie, toe wens ek so in die stilte vir Hjalmar ook iets daarvan toe.
Sterkte ou Grote. Mag die meetsnoere, en Michalak se skepskoppe, in lieflike plekke val.