Colin Bryden

Blood on the change room floor

2010-05-12 07:59
Sport24 columnist Colin Bryden (File)
Colin Bryden

When an official Cricket SA press release is headlined, “The End of a Proteas’ Era” you have to believe that something is afoot.

Then you see a comment by Gerald Majola demanding an explanation from team and management, followed by Graeme Smith saying that it may be time for new faces, and you can imagine the blood on the floor.

It was a dismal ICC World Twenty20 campaign. South Africa never hit top gear, although they played quite well against New Zealand and blasted Afghanistan’s top order into oblivion – as so they should have.

The batting was hopelessly unconvincing, with none of the top order able to play a truly dominant innings – even against Afghanistan.

A trend that has become apparent in the World T20 is that once a team falls behind the required scoring rate, whether batting first or second, it becomes extremely difficult to claw it back.

The fact that Smith was out of form was a major disadvantage, which ruined the plan to use Jacques Kallis as an anchor man. It could only work if the men batting around Kallis were hitting the ball to all parts of the ground.

It was the senior players who were most disappointing – Smith, Kallis, Gibbs and Boucher.

It doesn’t do to panic over Twenty20 cricket and I expect Smith, Kallis and Boucher to make important contributions during the forthcoming Test series in the West Indies. Gibbs, though, may have played his last game for South Africa.

While most of the T20 under-performers had already been selected for the West Indies tour, Gibbs was not, but I would be surprised if either Kallis or Boucher plays the shortest international game again. It should also be noted that some senior international captains, including Australia's Ricky Ponting, have opted out - or been opted out by their selectors.

Seeing Craig Kieswetter fearlessly charging down the wicket and hitting boundaries in the first over for England, immediately after SA’s humiliation, was a reminder both of a lost talent to this country and the value of youthful lack of inhibition.

Now would be the ideal time to try some youngsters like Rilee Rossouw, Colin Ingram and David Miller but unfortunately the team for the West Indies was picked before the T20.

It should be remembered that the team was selected by an interim selection panel, chaired by chief executive Gerald Majola, and coached by another interim appointee in Corrie van Zyl, following the mass sacking of Mickey Arthur and the previous selectors under Mike Procter.

If nothing else, Andrew Hudson, the newly appointed convenor, starts with a clean slate. He would be well advised to look forward rather than back.

Colin Bryden is a former cricket correspondent of the Sunday Times and current editor of the Mutual & Federal South African Cricket Annual

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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