Proteas firmly in control and Indians disappoint!

Pitched online by Bobby

Sri Lankan "Big three" in happier times!

East London proved a much sterner test for AB de Villiers and his men as they won the second ODI against Sri Lanka. On a slow wicket which required a lot of patience, the Sri Lankans gave a much better account of themselves but they will still be seriously concerned as not one of their “Big three” (Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene & Tillakaratne Dilshan) are getting any runs. As I mentioned before the test series started, it would require at least two of these three to fire for them to be competitive.

A well-deserved rest for Kallis and Amla would also test the top order in their absence for the remaining games. For the Proteas it’s now a case of seeing off these games, and looking towards the New Zealand tour next month.

The most disappointing series in recent years must be the Australia versus India contest being played in Australia at the moment. I wonder though, whether, if Gary Kirsten was still in charge of the Indian squad, they would have stumbled as badly as they did. To date, they were comprehensively outplayed in all three tests.

Somehow I doubt it. Although it is up to the team to perform, the new Indian coach, Duncan Fletcher, will be in for huge criticism in coming weeks. He also faces huge selection pressure regarding his squad and especially the older players who seems to fall victim first when things go wrong will be a big talking point!

Paul se perspeftief: SA Prospects in the Super 15
The departure of a number of stalwarts after RWC 2011 opens the door for a number of crown princes to put their hands up for future glory.

The Cinderella side of the Super 15 took a giant stride when it thrashed the Sharks in the Currie Cup final, after also surprising WP in the semi-finals. There are two factors which point to a substantially improved placing this year.

They have managed to rid themselves of a number of inferior players who were simply in the team on reputation. John Mitchell will no doubt make it very clear to the likes of Butch James that only merit will ensure selection, and I have no doubt that James will rise to the occasion. Partnered with Michael Bondesio, he will want to show his worth to the team by lifting the youngster’s play from “promising” to decisive. Josh Strauss has risen to the same status held by Francois Pienaar in terms of leading and inspiring the team, and will play a huge part in making the Lions a feared combination this year.

The biggest factor, though, will be the belief in themselves after their Currie Cup success. Backed by a strong coaching and management team, I believe they will more than stand their ground in this year’s competition, especially at home, where the dreaded altitude factor will work in their favour.

The possible loss of Heyneke Meyer will have little impact on what is possibly the best organised union in the country. The fact that they lost the top three locks in the country will not be felt so badly, as they have three new potential stars who can stand their ground when things heat up. The tight five of the Bulls will always be formidable, even if they play their “B” side.

While Slap Tjips have instilled an exciting new element to the backline, there are still a lot of work to be done in this regard. History has shown that imports, especially from Western Province, work twice as hard to prove their decision to move right. Coupled with the solid structures in the Bulls camp, which leads to them settling in quickly, this aspect of the Bulls game will be a revelation this year. Fourie du Preez will be missed, but he hardly played for them last year, did he?

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why the Sharks do not realise their full potential. Blowing hot and cold points to a mental barrier, more than anything else. Perhaps a Henning Gericke type of brain trainer is needed to keep them focussed in every match.

John Plumtree reminds me in a lot of ways of Nick Mallett. Could it be that his strict disciplinarian style is in contrast with the laid-back style which is so typical of the Banana Boys? His comments after a bad game seems to indicate blame storming, rather than taking the punch with the side.

Unless these causes are identified and addressed, the Sharks will end the competition as also-rans. Again.

The Free State can probably claim to be the second favourite side of all of those residing outside the province. They have to play out of their socks week after week just to stay in the running, and their number of near misses last year confirms this.

I have no doubt that Naka Drotske will aim at a better start, rather than a great finish, in every game, to improve his side’s placing this year.

One can never gauge the chances of the Cheetahs on their acquisitions from outside. Their strength lies in their own Springbok factory, better known as Grey College, and the ability of the new blood to make the gruelling transition from schools and varsity rugby to the toughest competition in the world.

In case you wondered why I left my home side for last, here’s why.

A problem that has been brewing for a number of years now, was exposed by the sudden resignation of Rassie Erasmus. In an interview in Rapport, he disclosed that it all had to do with politics in Western Province. He mentions that the Free State has 5 clubs, while WP has 85, and they call the shots.

Rugby has taken second place in WP, after the interests of administrators. In a way, this reflects the sad reality of real politics in the country in general. To change this around, the union needs a Jan Pickard or Kevin de Klerk to take control and implement the required steps to get WP back on track. Sadly, this seems highly unlikely.

My heart bleeds for the vast talent at all levels of the game in the Cape, but the exodus of the best will not stop without change at the top. We may not see the impact this year, but the downward spiral will continue unless something drastic happens.

Cry, the beloved Province.

Manie se Mishoop
Ou Manie deel nie my pessimisme oor die jaar wat voorlê nie. Om die waarheid te sê, die ou is witgallig oor die Bokke se toekoms.

Met John Smit nou veilig gevestig in die Saracens aftree-oord vir oud Suid-Afrikaanse spelers kan ons ‘n nuwe era betree met spelers van kleur wat op verdienste in die span is.

Nee, nie Chiliboy nie. Julius Malema.

Min van ons het al vergeet van die dodelike ontwrigting wat Sean Fitzpatrick veroorsaak het in sy speeldae. Julius kan sommer John en Bakkies vervang, met die voordeel dat hy minder geelkaarte as laasgenoemde sal kry, want hy laat sy mond, en nie sy spiere nie, die praatwerk doen.

Matfield se plaasvervanger, Parkbankie Bekker, ken die kuns van geheime tekens, en behoort die opposisie voortdurend aan die raai te hou. Totdat die pers hom uitvang.

Manie glo ons moet Churchill se woorde as riglyn neem vir 2012:

It is going to be long, it is going to be hard. There will be ups, and there will be downs, but there will be no withdrawals.

Of was dit nou weer die Pous wat dit gesê het?

Nag, ou Grote.

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