Rob Houwing

Sofa, so good...

2009-06-05 08:37
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
Rob Houwing’s TV sport column

As much as I believe South Africa will stand as good a chance as any outfit, I haven’t been tempted to open my pockets for a wager on who will win the ICC World Twenty20 cricket tournament.

A peculiar array of factors come into play at this format of the game and both the form barometer and squad strength can often count for very little!

During Standard Bank Inside Edge on SuperSport 2 on Tuesday, expert Daryll Cullinan made that very point, while examining likeliest shortcomings among the leading trophy candidates to try to narrow down “winner” options.

Revealingly, the former Proteas No 4 did not specifically highlight weaknesses in the South African ranks, concurring that the squad was well-balanced and a credible contender.

He wasn’t being especially jaundiced toward his home country, either, because a lot of English pundits – Bob Willis on Sky Sports just one I’ve noticed – similarly back Graeme Smith’s combo to prevail.

Daryll hinted that perhaps the Proteas’ worst enemy might turn out to be their old “friends” Messrs Duckworth and Lewis, should the budding UK summer take a nasty turn and the occasional game turns into a dramatically-curtailed lottery.

“If there are some seven-over matches or anything like that, you could yet see a minnow make the last four.”

But he was prepared to point out areas of possible vulnerability among other leading glory-chasers, saying that while champions India could bank on many gifted individuals and fervent support at the three English venues, the possibility of a comical, costly collective showing in the field always existed (an area, of course, where the Proteas pride themselves on precision and sharpness).

Cullinan felt Australia might be lacking in a batting game-breaker in their middle order, and also in terms of a truly influential spinner.

Although specialist “offie” Nathan Hauritz is in their squad, the Aussies may pin their hopes more in their seam cupboard – fit-again Brett Lee promisingly hit the 150km/h mark in a couple of the warm-ups – with occasional spin from the likes of David Hussey or Pup Clarke.

He said hosts England might be one or two places shy of genuine T20 game-breakers, and that they had some bowlers “who could be really hurt in this format”.

That view appears to be shared by Nasser Hussain – incidentally, one of my favourite English match commentators for his astuteness and no-nonsense style – who feared, for example, for Paul Collingwood’s medium-pace fare: “Batsmen just play through the line comfortably at his sort of (limited) speed.”

Hussain suggested Kevin Pietersen might “give it a tweak”, although more as a brief, “sneak him in” surprise tactic than for any full hauls of four overs.

Hmm, I’ll still skirt having a tourney flutter, I think …

Rob’s awesome foursome:

1. Cheetahs v British & Irish Lions, rugby tour match
Bloemfontein, Saturday 15:00, SS1 & M-Net

Suddenly this match looks being the first serious yardstick as to the tourists’ true potential – we can put their Phokeng struggle down to acclimatisation, and maybe we can assume background discontent significantly clouded the Golden Lions’ pitiful surrender just a few days on. At least the Cheetahs ought to be properly fired-up, especially with troops like Heinrich Brussow and Adriaan Strauss smarting over their Springbok omission. Tell you what, if the Lions win by 64 points again we should get a tad worried …

2. South Africa v Scotland, ICC World Twenty20 cricket
London, Sunday 14:30, SS2

When you consider that even the Netherlands gave the Scots a seven-wicket beating in a warm-up match, you also realise that the Proteas, one of the hot favourites, should get their tournament off to a flier! Mind you, Aberdeen-born Kyle Coetzer (och, wonder if he has any Afrikaans?) and company were fairly resilient against Auld Enemy England in another loosener, and there is no room for complacency in this fickle format.

3. Turkish Grand Prix, F1 motorsport
Istanbul, Sunday 14:00, SS1 & Maximo

It has been a near-monotonous stream of Button/Brawn wins this year, hasn’t it? What makes this 58-lap GP a little more interesting – in rather challenging times for the sport – is that Istanbul Park has tended to translate into “Turkish delight” for Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, seeking a fourth chequered flag on the trot here. Kimi Raikkonen won from pole in his McLaren in 2005, but since then it’s been Massa all the way. Anyone tripping up Button’s charge, really, would be good news for neutrals desiring a tight 2009 drivers’ championship.

4. French Open men’s singles tennis final
Paris, Sunday 15:00, SS5, CSN & M-Net HD

Don’t forget the women’s final on Saturday afternoon (same time, same channels) but I have focussed on the men’s showpiece here because of the fervent interest in whether Roger Federer can finally add this elusive title to his 13 Grand Slams at the other big ‘uns. Of course it could all come to grief as early as Friday afternoon, if he loses his semi-final to Argentine sensation Juan Martin del Potro – but I strongly tip immeasurably richer street wisdom to prevail.


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights

Live scoring

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Did Stormers and Springboks lock Pieter-Steph du Toit deserve to be named SA Rugby Player of the Year?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.