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Sunday, January 22, 2006

 

Other Sport: Cricket - South Africa can become World-Beaters


South African cricket has seen better days. Expectedly, not many supporters gave our guys much of a chance in the current tour down under, and our boys, yet again, did not disappoint.

We have been subjected yet again to what has become an all too familiar situation whenever we take on the Aussies, which makes it difficult as supporters and fans to stay positive about the current state of affairs in our cricket. However, JJ, a regular contributor to RuggaWorld, believes there is still reason to be positive about our cricket and given one or two changes, there is no reason we should not become world-beaters again.

Lets start with the coach.

Mickey Arthur is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, a real gentleman of the old mould. He is very highly qualified, having gone as far as possible in S.A. he spend three to six months at the Australian Academy obtaining his level four coaching certificate. That is as far as one can go. As far his ability is concerned we can be assured we have one of the best available. Taking into consideration that at this level coaching is more about sussing out the opposition weaknesses and strengths and putting in place a game plan to counter both I would say he has the credentials bearing in mind that in the last two ODI’S we bowled Oz out within the fifty overs, and performed credibly in the tests, dropped catches and dubious decisions did not help our cause.

My only problem with Mickey is that I wonder weather he has the strength of character and personality to be able to man manage the strong personalities in the S.A. Team. This is vital and is a large part of a coach’s duty. I further feel that he should jump on his fitness trainer’s back and get him to perform and spend more time at fielding practice. In Kallis and Polly he has the batter with the best technique in the world and a bowler who has one of the best records in the world. These two can assist anyone in the team that has a problem; video analysis can further assist an individual batter or bowler to personally pick up where they are going wrong. One must bear in mind that these are all International players who know all about technique, rhythm, head position, balance etc.

The Players.

As far the players are concerned we have a few prima donnas that are not helping as far as team spirit is concerned. Kallis got a roasting for not reading the match situation correctly and batting accordingly, he was far to slow. He is sulking. Gibbs got roasted by Polly for missing a ball that should have been fielded, he is sulking, Bouch got to big for his boots and his attitude towards Ntini on the field did not help. He was dropped and came back a much better player. Smith is having the worst run he will ever have in his career and is talking too much. He should lower his profile and concentrate on not falling over when batting. His captaincy has improved immensely over the last year, so much so that even the one eyed Oz commentators are remarking on it. With no one else on the horizon we have to persevere with him, his class will tell and his batting will improve, he is too good a player to remain in this slump much longer.

Selection.

Team selection is a problem as far as I am concerned. We have dismissed Oz twice in ODI’S without Ntini, Nel and Langeveld yet the popular believe is that we do not have the bowlers to get twenty wickets in a test. I would make bold and say our batters are the problem and have not given our bowlers sufficient runs to enable them to bowl out the opposition for a victory.

Test Cricket.

Lets look at test cricket, Oz have been number one for years and have for years played six batters. We on the other hand play five batters and a bunch of all rounders, no wonder we don’t get enough runs. Both Kallis and Polly can be regarded as all rounders, one a batting and the other a bowling all rounder, we don’t need further all rounders in our team. Nobody will convince me that Kemp has the technique to play test cricket, a brilliant hitter yes but not in tests.

My top six would be;

Smith – his form will improve, has the temperament and ability to open.
AB – speaks for himself a brilliant prospect.
Boeta – a grafter who can play the new ball should we lose an early wicket.
Kallis – speaks for himself
Gibbs – a brilliant stroke makers but needs to get his head in shape.
Prince / Rudolf – both left handers, both on a par
Waiting in the wings are J.P. Duminy, McKenzie, van Jaarsveld and Puttick.
Bouch at seven no arguments
Polly at eight no arguments
Boje – If you don’t have a spinner, why play a spinner. Botha has burst onto the scene
as a wrist spinner but turns the ball no more than Boje. Boje is the better batter and a brilliant fielder. Smith and Rudolf need to work at there bowling.
Ntini – speaks for himself
Nel / Langeveld depends on condition, swing or agro required, horses for courses.
Waiting in the wings a whole host of military medium bowlers. Steyn, Kruger, vd Wath Zondeki etc. We lack a Lee with genuine pace in our team.

With the above team one thing is lacking, consistency, our batters must learn to be consistent and not play stupid shots. As Steve Waugh said, “My wicket is my life, I guard it with everything I have, bad balls will come, and runs will come until that happens I defend, defend and defend.”

One Day Cricket.

For the ODI team, it boggles the mind that AB is not in OZ. He needs an extended run to settle and gain confidence.
We need an additional bowler in our ODI team; I would go for Klusener above Kemp. Both are great hitters but Klusener the better bowler. He and Smith don’t see eye to eye but the bigger picture is more important and they should grow up and work together for S.A. I would go in without a spinner but because of the time constraint a spinner may be necessary and I would then drop the Prince/Rudolf combination.
Waiting in the wings are Henderson, Morkel, Shabalala (who I rate but bowls too slow for test cricket) and others.

As far as I am concerned the future is bright, a bit of tweaking and twisting and an attitude change or two and we can be world-beaters.

The above article and thoughts courtesy of JJ.

If you would like to submit your thoughts regarding sport in South Africa and around the world, please feel free to contact any of the contributors on the e-mail addresses supplied on the main page - we would love to hear from you and gladly consider posting your thoughts for discussion.

Comments:
Sorry gents and ladies, this time it will stay up, my PC went bang as I posted it and I had to re-do everything....  
Good article, JJ  
I am still unsure about Smith. Seems he has quite a big chip on his shoulder.  
i must agree donner.

he is talented, but he also has that all too familiar trait of 'FIFO'

and i dont like that in a player let alone a captain.
 
PA,

He was the right man to be there for the Aussies, but captain, I am not sure. I just don't know who else to make captain.
 
well before smith i was a huge fan and supporter of a neil mckenzie to take over that role.

but i know almost no-one will agree with me on that.

i think we passed that stage though already - so i also dont know who will be the right guy.

or we can only hope smith undergoes an attitude adjustment.
 
Smith will get better.

I just wish the team could settle, get some confidence and lose the hardegat attitude in general.

You get the feeling a culture developed where the fans were taken for granted. It doesn't work like that.

Some of these guys have also been more content with protecting their own averages rather than doing what is required for a specific match situation at a specific time.

Too often we are just playing stupid cricket, without much thought or tactical nous.

Nice arti, JJ, thanks.
 
Good read JJ

On Smith

Whether is is the root of all the an-field rot I am not sure, debating the off-field rot clearly have np purpose- as it is not going to change.

One thing is clear- technical abilities accounts to zip if you cannot produce on the field.

Get all the lazy fuckers fit again!!!

Pollock
Kallis
Smith.... whatever

Then ban fawn eyed Minki from SA Cricket.... surely she is playing with Smiths mind.

In 1992 the Aussies supplied Kuiper's blond- in 2006 we are supplying our own.....hell maybe some policies should warrant a rethink- they are not on vacation in Aus

Only test position Kallis- 3

Start looking for a proper 4, as Gibbs should open with Smith.

AB to immediatly take over gloves from the incumbent, batting 7- because that is what where wicket keepers bat in test cricket.

On Spinning- if we cannot spin - do not play one- surely Smith & Rudolph can contain and bowl out the overs- Q are Smith fit enough- and as he is opening?

My proposed order

1.Smith- for now
2.Gibbs- no pension at 4
3. Kallis- and that is the way it is
4. Bosman- whatever natural stroke player with better concetration than Gibbs
5. Rudolph keep him here
6. Prince keep him here
7. AB- only be moved to 5 if part of 2 all rounders
8. Pollock
9. Boje/ Langeveldt
10.Ntini
11.Nel/Whatever player to make the 4 non white requirement

Arthur may be technically sound- the team is running circles around him.

If he is such an asset give him the national academy- get Woolmer back( yeah I know it will not happen) or an Steve Waugh- somebody that will take no crap from the players and make Jonty the conditioning coach- with extra lessons for Kallis, Pollock Smith & Gibbs.
 
On Smith

Whether (he) is the root of all the (o)n-field rot I am not sure, debating the off-field rot clearly have n(o) purpose- as it is not going to change.
 
OO
Good team, we seem to agree on most players but playing around with batting order makes it interesting. I agree that AB should eventually take the cloves but find it difficult to drop Bouch taking into account his present form. Kallis at 3 could cause a problem if he has to bowl say 15 overs and we lose a quick wicket, hence Boeta as cover for me.

Bosman slipped my mind completely, yes he is very good, but more consistency at his present level is required, the step up is huge.

Mickey would do very well at the Academy working with younger upcoming players, he worries me in his present position. I don’t think he can stand up to Smith and we must learn from history when at one stage Hansie was far too powerful for the good of S.A. Cricket, Smith is heading in that direction and must be taken down a peg or two sooner rather than later
 
Good article, just a few points that I would like to make:

The biggest problem with our cricketers at the moment is that they are not functioning as a team. Everybody seems to have their own agenda and they are not playing for their country, but rather for World rankings.

Smith is a great player but unfortunately he is a bit of an asshole too. He should stop screaming from mid-on / off and cut the crap with all of the verbal crap. I think he feels that it pumps the guys up but in my view he should be focussing on the job at hand, i.e. captaining the side and working the batters out!He must also work on his weakness while batting, its almost as if he does not listen to advice, three ways he gets out are LBW (playing across the line), Playing on (playing across the line) and caught behind. If he focuses on coming down on his shot with a straight bat, he will sort out those problems.

Kallis was a better player before he got his holier than though attitude, he is no Graeme Pollock nor Barry Richards and must stick to what he does best, i.e. he is a Imran Khan, Ian Botham type player and that is what he should be doing.

We need a spinner!!!! Smith and Rudolph should not be bowling unless it is to catch up on lost overs. Now comes the shocker, bring back Paul Adams, i know most people will laugh this off, butlook at the facts, even though top order batters have figured him out, he can still clean up the tail. He needs to work with someone who can bring back the confidence he once had and he was no donkey with the bat either. Botha still needs to learn the trade and mature. Boje is great with the bat but has more off days with the ball than not.

Andrew Hall must be given an extended run in the team. He always comes out fighting for SA, does great then gets dropped. Decide where to bat him, decide where to bowl him and stick with him for a while!!!!!!

Dale Steyn must be in the team. Ask Michael Vaughn about the unplayable delivery that made him look like a "right-old-tosser". The only way that Steyn will improve is to be in the thick of things.

My best test-eleven:

1. Smith

2. Gibbs (They were SA's best opening batters, remember the centuries at Newlands?)

3. Prince (Try him at three it will work)

4. Kallis

5. AB de Villiers (keeper) Sorry Boucher somebody had to get axed!

6. Andrew Hall

7. Pollock

8. Paul Adams

9. Andre Nel

10. Ntini

11. Dale Steyn
 
Zero
They say stats don’t lie, look at Gogga’s test stats and you have a very valid point.
IMHO your side is a bit light in the batting department.
 
Totally agree with you zero.  
JJ,
I was also was concerened about the batting but I worked out that even thinking conservatively this team should be able to accumlate at least 450 per innings if people just do their job. Batting down to eight should be enough for any team, as soon as you start relying on tail-enders to score runs you have problems. The plus side of this team is bowling and there is no reason that they shouldn't be able to bowl out any team.

I would open with Ntini and Steyn (frightning). Pollock and Nel as first change. Hall and Kallis and Adams to follow depending on conditions, wickets, etc.
 
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