Dale and Morné may work in different departments, but there is no doubting their effectiveness in doing a great cleaning up operation.
Wrapped up and sent Packing
A lot has been said about this Proteas side and to be honest, there is not much I can really add. What appears to be evident, is that South African cricket seems to be in a very good state. We are in a position where we can pick top performers at the franchise teams, slot them in at test level and watch them perform at more than just an acceptable level.
Test cricket takes a bit of a back seat for a couple of months as we approach the shorter version of the game but before we move on, let’s recap on some “smart stats” of an unforgettable summer and a Pakistan series, courtesy of ESPN’s Cricinfo website.
- South Africa won all five Tests in their home season. For only the third time since readmission, have they won three or more Tests in a series. The previous two such series wins, came against the West Indies in 1998 and 2003-04.
- Pakistan suffered a whitewash in a series of three or more matches for the fourth time since 2000. Their three previous series whitewashes came against Australia.
- Dale Steyn became the third-highest wicket-taker for South Africa, after passing Allan Donald. Only Shaun Pollock (421) and Makhaya Ntini (390) are ahead of Steyn
- Kyle Abbott’s match haul of 9 for 68 is the third best by a South African bowler on Test debut and the best for South Africa since their readmission.
- Abbott’s 9 for 68 is also the third best performance by a South African bowler against Pakistan. Abbott’s performance is also the best by a bowler on debut against Pakistan.
- South Africa improved on their outstanding record in Centurion (14 wins and one defeat). The win-loss ratio of 14 is the best for a venue since South Africa’s readmission (minimum 15 Tests played).
I jokingly sent Paul a message yesterday saying: “have we lost the ability to play 5 day cricket?” I believe that the last time we played a full 5 days of test cricket at home was in the beginning of 2011. Even if my facts are wrong, the Proteas have been ruthless in finishing off a test match once they get a sniff of victory. The massive change in the side, in my view, is their ability to put a game to bed when the opportunity presents itself.
One last comment: the fantastic all-round performance by all Dale Steyn once again proved his superiority as the world best fast bowler with 20 wickets at an average of 12 runs per wicket.
Super 15 Wrap
– by Paul Kruger
Vrydagaand, toe die Stormers en die Bulls mekaar op Loftus pak, dag ek na 5 minute die Kaap het hul skolespan Pretoria toe gestuur. Praat van op hul senuwees wees. Hoewel dit in die tweede helfte beter gegaan het, was Morné Steyn in alle opsigte die generaal wat spel dikteer het soos in die ou dae. Ek wil nou nie agterna slim wees nie, maar lesers sal onthou dat ons al lank kerm dat Steyn ooreis was aan die einde van verlede seisoen, en hierdie puik vertoning bevestig dit. In my view, the mess in the line-outs resulted from the fact that both sides just closed the gap at will. At one stage, they were so close to each other that the hooker had to throw in scew to avoid finding the opposition jumper.
The Cheetahs fought back too late, and must be asking themselves why they allowed this to be necessary in the first place? Like in the game on Friday night, the result of the match could have been different, had the place kicking been better. Maar nou ja, julle ken die storie van wat my antie moes hê om my oom te wees, né? The Sharks will certainly take a lot of confidence from this game, despite not being able to score a bonus point for four tries. An away win, with four points, is exactly the kind of foundation to build a great season on.
I copy the following article from the New Zealand Herald, who rated the performance by the Kings as their match of the weekend. High praise indeed for the men from PE:
Won 22-10, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
3rd overall, 1st in SAC
Wow, who saw that coming? Written off as an almost guaranteed victory for opposition teams this season, the Southern Kings announced their arrival in the competition with a stunning upset win over the Force in front of a crowd of 30,000 at Port Elizabeth. Down 5-10 at half time, the Kings, wearing a black strip reminiscent of the Sharks’, dominated the second half, scoring 17 unanswered points. Their hero was Seargal Petersen, an 18-year-old wing who was at school last year. His first try came via a lucky bounce and some good juggling skills; his second thanks to a solid fend. A controversial addition to the competition at the expense of the Lions, the Kings top the South African conference. They haven’t a hope of winning the title, so strictly speaking they shouldn’t be appearing here, but let’s give them their time in the spotlight. The Kings players seemed almost as surprised as everyone else.
Die seisoen is nog lank, maar as daar een span is wat terug is na ‘n swak 2012, is dit die Blues. John Kirwan does not like losing, and the Blues are going to be a major factor this year.