Rob Houwing

Caps galore in first Test box

2011-11-04 07:59
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
Rob Houwing’s ‘Tops on the Telly’ column

Maths has never been yours truly’s strongest suit – call it the sportswriter’s curse? – but by my calculation SuperSport will field a total of precisely 300 Test cricket caps across their English and Afrikaans commentary teams at Newlands next week.

Wednesday, of course, sees the start of the lamentably short, two-match series between South Africa and Australia at the picturesque venue, and the main drawcard for SS2-watchers will be legendary Aussie captain and batsman Allan Border, who accounts for a mighty 156 caps alone (he’s among the top five most capped players in history).

I don’t have any special recollections of “AB” as a commentator, but it’s hard to believe he won’t bring a definite sense of gravitas to SuperSport’s offering from Newlands and then the Wanderers (November 17-21).

The left-hander played his second last Test at that very venue, back in March 1994, when the Aussies won by nine wickets to level the three-match series 1-1 and it stayed that way after the drawn finale in Durban.

Border scored 45 in the tourists’ first innings at Newlands, where two other elements of the SS commentary panel next week shone with the ball – Craig Matthews got 5/80 and Fanie de Villiers 4/117 as Australia nevertheless racked up 435.

Kepler Wessels, similarly behind the mike for the looming Cape Town Test, was rival captain to Border, although he didn’t have his best outing with the bat, registering 11 and nine.

Apart from the key balancing presence of Border, there’s a reasonable “impartiality” trend in the eight-strong SuperSport English-language team generally, with Wessels a dual international for the respective combatants, of course, Mike Haysman a non-Test Australian (though he has 103 first-class caps and rebel series involvement against South Africa), and Pommie Mbangwa (Zimbabwe) and Robin Jackman (England) not boasting personal dressing room allegiance to either side.

The remaining commentators will be rising star HD Ackerman and Paul “Gogga” Adams, the latter earmarked for studio duty.
Vinnige Fanie is the only Test-capper (18) among the specialist Afrikaans commentators for SuperSport at Newlands, although Shafiek Abrahams earned his lone ODI cap at the ground, against New Zealand.

We get the same English-language team again for the Bullring, save for Shaun Pollock nipping in then to replace Matthews, whose vast knowledge of Newlands conditions will come in handy for the first Test – the only “major teams” he has ever boasted are South Africa and Western Province, after all.

Newlands’ full Afrikaans panel: Mike de Villiers, Kotie Grove, Jeremy Fredericks, Fanie de Villiers, Shafiek Abrahams and Louis Wilkinson. 

*Remember that SABC3 are also carrying the Test series live, even if their official TV listings didn’t necessarily reflect that when I last looked!

Rob’s Awesome Foursome:

1 Dolphins v Cape Cobras, 1-Day Cup cricket
Durban, Friday 15:00, SS2 & CSN

It is a shame in many ways that this isn’t a SuperSport Series match, given the near farcical situation that most of the Proteas players readying themselves to play the first Test against Australia next week haven’t played an extended-format game of any kind since the last Newlands Test (against India) last season! But unsponsored, 1-Day Cup it is, with Gary Kirsten and company presumably praying the likes of Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla (I assume he’ll play for the Dolphins), Mark Boucher and Dale Steyn cash in on the opportunity for fine-tuning in a 50-overs affair. At least the presence of several international stars spices the fixture up a lot ...

2 QPR v Manchester City, English Premiership soccer
London, Saturday 19:30, SS3, Maximo & SHD3

It is certainly beginning to look as if Man City are “for real” in their quest for various major honours this year, especially as their Champions League campaign is very much back on track. They are basking in a fine 3-0 away victory over Villareal and are now in a much better position to advance from Group A. Their Premiership form is pretty special, too ... they boast a five-point cushion over Manchester rivals United at the top. Mid-table QPR won’t be rollovers at Loftus Road, especially as their last home game was a 1-0 victory over Chelsea. But the visitors should still prevail comfortably on current form: 2-0 to City?

3 Moroka Swallows v Orlando Pirates, Telkom Knockout QF soccer
Johannesburg, Saturday 20:15, SS4 & SHD2

It has been a rather sleepy start to the season by the Buccaneers, who lie a ho-hum sixth on the PSL table and five point inferior at present to third-placed Swallows, their opponents at Dobsonville Stadium in this quarter-final which looks the most appealing of the four Telkom fixtures. But Pirates are a renowned cup-hunting side, of course, and this is an opportunity to entrench that status. The same sides met in the league at Orlando Stadium in midweek, with Swallows coach Gordon Igesund stoking the fire for this return meeting by venturing that the black shirts were lucky to steal a late point in a 1-1 outcome. Expect a “response”, I fancy, from their foes ... 

4 South Africa v Australia, 1st cricket Test
Cape Town, Wednesday 10:30, SABC3, SS2 &SHD2

It is reassuring to have noted that the always astute observer Wessels sees South Africa shading the two-match series, although I am rather more nervous from a Proteas point of view as we contemplate the opener at Newlands. It just seems to me as if several of our leading five-day players are still short of best form and rhythm, whilst the Aussies will have benefited from that often taxing little workout against SA ‘A’ on an unexpected chin-music pitch at Potchefstroom. They also boast much more recent Test activity, in Sri Lanka, where Mike Hussey averaged 92 in the series and has started the SA tour in fine nick as well. Add in the moody Mitchell Johnson’s nine wickets at Senwes Park and the Proteas’ task begins to look even steeper. Still, Graeme Smith’s men are well overdue a home series win, so I hope Kepler’s chipper forecast is proved correct.


All is not rotten

2016-10-20 07:39

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