Test cricket has character

2009-12-21 07:28
Sport24 columnist Arthur Turner (File)
Arthur Turner

The two Test matches that finished this weekend and the selection of South Africa’s best Test XI proved once again that Test cricket is unique with regards to its character, history and statistics.

The two Tests - in Perth and Centurion - once again produced the ebb and flow that makes Test cricket special. There were also great performances with both bat and ball. Who will ever forget Chris Gayle’s great innings at the WACA?

The West Indies are starting to show signs of recovery - even though they lost the Test series 2-0 in Australia. The series was much closer than the scoreline suggests. In the second Test that ended in a draw, they had Australia struggling for survival and only lost the third Test by 35 runs. Add to this their recent series win in the Caribbean against England and there are definite signs of a revival. This is good news for world cricket as the global game desperately needs a strong West Indian team.

Chris Gayle might not be the best batsman in the world, but he is certainly the most exciting. His 75-ball hundred was fantastic to watch and it was the fifth fastest Test century in the history. This is not the first time that he has scored a Test century at better than a run a ball.

However, if the West Indies want to build on this foundation they need to find a leader as soon as possible. Gayle is not the man to restore West Indies cricket to its former greatness. As a captain he is far too laid back. Also, judging by his comments he does not have much respect for the history of West Indies and Test cricket.  

Fantastic advertisement

The Test match at SuperSport Park, even though it ended in a draw, was a fantastic advertisement for Test cricket. South Africa will feel that late on the third day with the second new ball they let a dominant position slip.

Jacques Kallis once again proved that he is the backbone of the South African batting line-up with his well constructed 32nd Test hundred in the first innings. This hundred was in sharp contrast to that of Gayle’s, but it was played on a poor Test match surface and also, that is how Kallis plays.

Hashim Amla and Paul Harris can also feel satisfied with their performances. Friedel de Wet made a very good debut and once again proved that if the selectors give new players an opportunity it has a positive influence on the team.

A selection panel consisting of South African cricket journalists, Ali Bacher and umpire Rudi Koertzen recently select their best-ever South African Test XI. I found this very interesting and for the record this was their team: Barry Richards, Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Graeme Pollock, Dudley Nourse, Aubrey Faulkner, John Waite, Mike Procter, Shaun Pollock, Hugh Tayfield, Alan Donald.

Personally, I would make one change to the team selected. I would replace Smith (average of 49.64) with Eddie Barlow (45.74), even though Smith has a slightly better average. Barlow was one of the iconic figures of the game and is the man credited with changing South Africa into a winning Test nation in the 1960s. He had the energy and fire in his belly to take on any team or nation irrespective of its reputation and win. This legacy still lives on today. 

Arthur is a former cricket administrator and current player agent.

Disclaimer: 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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