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One Pint of Bitter, please barman

On Saturday night, the English team were drowning their sorrows, as yet another opportunity to beat South Africa, slipped through the cracks. The pub they were sitting in, is one of those typical old English pubs, complete with a jukebox.

An elderly supporter walked up to the English captain and asked if he would select a special dedication for the team. Rob Shaw ran his eyes over the play list and selected an old tune by Roger Whittaker:

“I don’t believe in If any more…”

That decision to kick at goal, will haunt them for many years to come. Mark my words.

Is it just my imagination, or has lady luck treated us more kindly in recent months? Yes, I know about creating your own luck, but that applies more to games where the ball is round. What I am beginning to think is that the lady favours us more than she does the English.

It is difficult to say whether the problems in the scrums resulted from how referees in the Northern hemisphere interpret the rules, in contrast to how we do. What was pleasing, is that we now have more than adequate replacements for most of the stalwarts in the national side, including the front row – and they are all still very young.

On Thursday, we will be reflecting on our progress since Heyneke took over the helm. I would really like your help in compiling a meaningful article. Please share your views with me via e-mail:

Talking of progress: if you are looking for something to read over the holidays, I can recommend the latest publication by the Pope – The Pill’s grim progress.

Vasbyt, ou Grote. Geluk net om die draai.

Aussies denied but Protea questions raised!
– By Bobby Londt

Irrespective of the result – be it a “great escape”, or a stunning win by the Aussies, the Proteas will not be happy with their performance in terms of applying pressure in this game. Their bowling on day one dictated the direction of the game, and meant that the Proteas would be defending most of the time. This allowed the Aussies to make all the strategic moves.

Admittedly, the Proteas hit some bad luck on this tour. Firstly, they played with 10 men in the 1st test after JP Duminy got injured in a freakish, after-play warm down exercise. Philander was withdrawn on the morning of the second test and Kallis injured a hamstring on day one which restricted him to batting only, and with some discomfort, I might add!

FAF du Plessis

FAF du Plessis

So, all in all, the Proteas have rolled with the punches – FAF du Plessis rose to the occasion when given his chance. His sensational 110 has received much praise from an ex England captain Michael Vaughn on twitter:

‏@MichaelVaughan:  Surely @faf1307 1st Test for SA has to be classed as the best debutant game of all time??

Imran Tahir, I believe has had his chance, after many test matches and suitable wickets he was unable to perform as well as we all hoped he would. Regrettably, Jacques Rudolph has not come to the party either, as I personally hoped he would.

He might still have one last chance if Kallis’s injury prevents him from playing in the 3rd test.

The Protea selectors may want to consider some changes for the next and final test against the Aussies. It can be assumed that Philander will be back for Kleinveldt and I predict  Robbie Peterson for Imran Tahir. There is also the option of replacing Kallis with Dean Elgar. Dean is a more than useful left arm spinner, apart from his batting qualities. But, I suspect with the pressure of a match of this stature, Kirsten and Smith might not want to expose the talented youngster quite yet and Rudolph might earn a reprieve.

I hope the next test will be the last for AB de Villiers as keeper – I think the dual role seriously undermines his batting. I suspect Tsolikile will get the nod for the summer at home but I would like to see young Quinton de Kock from the Lions in that side.  The risk SA cricket took many years ago with Boucher as a 19 or 20 year old, paid dividends and I think the same should be invested in young Quinton. His ability with the bat, compared with Boucher’s at the same stage of development, is superior, although his mental toughness is, as yet, untested. We all know that Bouch was a hard as you get! I see De Kock as a similar player to Australia’s Adam Gilchrest, hard hitting and ideal for the one day game, opening, and an awesome number 7 in tests. Politics might have a say in this, but that would be on my wish list.

Don’t get me wrong – the Proteas have done awesomely well to save this test and that in itself might make the Aussies vulnerable for the next test . If they could not win this one, I cannot see them winning any.

More importantly, it might mean that they, subconsciously, share my view.

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