O Captain my Captain

It appears a foregone conclusion in the media that Victor Matfield will lead the Springboks until the return of Jean de Villiers. I am in agreement with this, but to disqualify Bismarck du Plessis on the grounds of one or two minor incidents in Saturday’s game is really not smart thinking on the part of some journalists.

My own view is that Bismarck should gradually grow into the new role through being an “impact captain.” Nee, Tony, ek bedoel nie hy moet iemand slaan nie – eerder dat hy oorneem as Oom Victor na 60 minute bietjie gaan rus.

One must also bear in mind that Jean de Villiers has a history of serious injuries, and he does not have the recuperation abilities of a youngster like Frans Steyn. His long and distinguished career has taken its toll on his body, and will need careful nurturing if he is to see us through to RWC next year.

If memory serves me correctly, Jean has a history of injuries early in the World Cup. Meyer is sure to have more than one ace up his sleeve for this event, including Francois Louw, Schalk Burger and Duane Vermeulen, but the main manne will be De Villiers and Matfield, both for their leadership skills and charisma when addressing the media.

I wonder if it is coincidence that men from the Cape feature so strongly in this line-up?

My colleague, Bobby Londt, has the following thoughts on who will succeed Graeme Smith as Protea skipper:

Who to pick as Test Captain?

Cricket South Africa is about to announce the new test captain in the five-day version of the game. The front runners seem to be AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla, who joined the race as a late contestant by announcing his interest not so long ago.

So who should it be?

Personally, I have always felt that AB is strategically not as astute for the role as Faf is. As a player, though, AB is a definite selection whereas Faf can blow hot and cold. Amla, on the other hand, is a superb choice as he is strategically sound and arguably one of our best test batsmen. AB & Faf enjoy the lime light and thrive under media pressure whereas Amla prefers to shy away from it and go about his business doing what he does best – scoring runs.

If the Protea captaincy was about on-field tactics and strategy, then Amla would be my pick. Unfortunately, South African sports are conflicted with politics and policies that add huge amounts of pressure off the field. This is likely to ruin Amla’s game and distract him to the point where he will underperform, not enjoy the game any longer, and ultimately retire prematurely.

The wise choice, in my mind, would be Faf… he’s a natural fighter, a grafter and he has fulfilled leadership roles since his schooldays. An added element is that he has played a lot of cricket under arguably the best captain in World Cricket, MS Dhoni.

AB and Hashim, as players, will always form part of the “senior” advisers to the leadership but will at the same to be able to do what they do best – score runs. I am convinced that the off-the-field responsibilities, especially the political agenda CSA need to enforce, will be a distraction to these great players. It will benefit neither their own performance, nor their contribution to the national side. Read any autobiography (Mickey Arthur’s is a perfect example) and you will see that captaincy and politics in SA sport is a huge challenge.

Faf has the character to address these better than Hash or AB. He would be my pick.

Super 15 Log

With only two rounds to go, and a weekend of upsets behind us, the log is as open as a tart’s heart.

The Waratahs (43) and Crusaders (41) have a game in hand against the Sharks when the series continue after the test window.

The Aussie team play the Brumbies and the Highlanders at home, with a final match against the Reds away from home.

The Crusaders play the Hurricanes at home and away, and also host the Blues between these two matches.

Hopefully the Sharks will win their two remaining matches after Saturday’s slip-up in Durban and at least ensure a semi-final at home.

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