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Game time: England v Proteas 1st Test, at the Oval

By the time you read this the teams might already be in battle – or not ….as rain is forecast for the next few days.

A lot has been said about both bowling attacks, which are regarded by pundits as the best around at the moment. In my view, the difference will lie in the batting.

Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers will make the difference I believe, as both are superb players of spin and hard workers at building an innings.  Chuck in the silent warrior, Amla and the determination of Smith and I think we might just edge the Poms in this department. In saying that, Kevin Pietersen is world class and has just come of a county double hundred. Cook and Strauss and be sticky batters to remove and obviously Jonathan Trott is their Mr. Consistency.

What I do like is the fact that Philander seems to be under the radar. I suppose with Steyn and Morkel in the mix one easily forgets the medium quickie. The Proteas will be relying heavily on him to make the initial breakthrough as he has a far higher success rate against lefthanders than Steyn.

The fact is, though, that we are coming in cold into a high pressure test where the weather will be a factor and the conditions might prove testing. Our old nemesis, Shane Warne predicts a 2 -0 result for the Poms. Personally, I think he is just trying to get his commentating contract renewed with Sky.

Graeme Smith

Graeme Smith

Lastly, its “ton up” (test number 100) for our fearless leader Graeme Smith. Congratulations skipper, well deserved!

It’s going to be epic!

You can follow my cricket comments during the game on Twitter @bobbyl77.


Fortune continues to favour our brave

Last weekend we saw some lucky breaks coming our way for a change. The Chiefs lost, the Brumbies lost, the Sharks won with four tries, as did the Bulls, and we ended up with 50% of the teams in the top six. The cherry (literally) on top was of course the Stormers heading the final log.

Reds/Sharks

Louis Ludik

Louis Ludik

The first major casualty for this weekend’s quarter finals, Quade Cooper, was suspended for one match following a dangerous tackle last week. This was good news for the Sharks, who had problems of their own. No, not Lambie or Frans Steyn’s unavailability, but who of the four loose forwards to leave out. The eventual decision to move Alberts to lock may yet turn out to be a master shift by the Hoarse Whisperer, Plumtree. Louis Ludick, who replaces Lambie, will not weaken the side and, all in all, the Sharks boast one of the top two sides, in my view, as far as a stellar line-up is concerned.

Both sides showed an upward curve in their play recently. In the case of the Sharks, it was more of a team effort, while the improvement at the Reds coincided with the return of Cooper after a long injury lay-off. If the Sharks can maintain the form they displayed against the Bulls, and in the second half against the Cheetahs, they should win this one. One just needs to remember that their opponents beat the Crusaders in the final last year, and came back from nowhere to make the quarter-finals. Never underestimate their fighting spirit – you will do so at your peril.

Crusaders/Bulls

If the Sharks are the favourites in their game despite playing away from home, then the same cannot be said for the Bulls. There is every reason why they may want to give it their best, yet accept, before the game, that the result is a foregone conclusion. Of particular concern is the perceived weakness in their front row. Between them have conceded a multitude of penalties, and now face an All Black onslaught in terrible conditions.

Losing Kieran Read is a big blow for the Crusaders; in fact, the resultant shift of McCaw to number eight may also benefit the Bulls more than the Crusaders.

The media loves saying that the Bulls fax you their game plan before the match, then saying, “Take us on if you can”. The Sharks accepted that challenge two weeks ago, as did the Lions last week, and neutralising the Bulls here does take away a lot of their sting, particularly Hougaard, which in turn affects the rest of the back line.

That was my head talking.

Henning Gericke is also in the Bulls squad. His mental coaching will be more important than the on-the-field drilling. If he can convince the Bulls that they have it in them to beat a near full All Black side, then they can do it. There is enough experience, and Springboks, in this line-up to succeed.

As long as they play to their potential for 80 minutes. The full 80 minutes.

Hawkeye Competition

Baie geluk aan Hannes Wepener van Vereeniging wat Ryk Neethling identifiseer het ondanks Shelley se pogings om lesers te verwar. Ons stuur graag vir ‘jou ’n Moonstone geheuestokkie, Hannes.

Hierdie week wil ons vir lesers geleentheid bied om ons te trakteer op jul gunsteling olimpiese spele grappe.

Send us your favourite joke/s about the Olympics to Shelley and stand a chance of winning either two tickets to a Clem Sunter presentation in Cape Town next week, or wine, or one of those little sticks, the purpose of which I have forgotten.

Geniet die baie sport hierdie naweek, ou Grote. Maak net seker mammie koop genoeg hout.

PK the DJ

 

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