Rob Houwing

Scott plays both ways

2009-10-16 08:25
Rob Houwing
SOFA, SO GOOD - Rob Houwing’s TV sport column

Darren Scott served notice anew of his versatility this week, nipping in and out of rugby and cricket duties fairly effortlessly.

Normally more prolific on SuperSport’s rugby coverage, of course – he will be the pitch-side personality at the Sharks v Cheetahs Currie Cup semi-final in Durban - the (relatively) veteran broadcaster stood in for anchor Pommie Mbangwa on Standard Bank Inside Edge on SS2 this week.

The former Zimbabwe seamer, of course, was in India for his role behind the mike at the inaugural Twenty20 Champions League; hence Scott deputising back in Randburg.

And in some ways it was a blessing: with so much cricket these days, some of the globetrotting commentators can get a bit over-exposed and an uncustomary cowboy in the studio saddle made for a timely change.

Mbangwa’s high-decibel style and even occasional raucousness isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, although his affable, “chilled” personality and cricketing passion count for a bit and he’s worked overtime in the past few weeks.

I still think radio is Scott’s most natural calling, but that isn’t to say he falls short in TV terms, and this week’s Inside Edge, with Scott backed up by the guest presence of straight-talking Daryll Cullinan and seasoned coach Corrie van Zyl, hardly saw a dip in standards.

We shouldn’t forget that Scott first patrolled the televised cricket beat many years ago, and Mike Haysman, for instance, is the first to admit that he learnt many of the tricks of the trade when the former was front-man for the old Extra Cover programme.

The trio were able to discuss Eagles phenomenon Rilee Rossouw’s - Ian Chappell calls him “Rossew” - key innings of 65 in the nail-biting victory over Sussex which saw the Free Staters squeeze into the Super Eight.

The left-hander made his runs just a day or two after turning 20, and certainly looked lethal when he danced down the track and went aerial (and then some!) over long-on.
Van Zyl noted that Rossouw prospered on a hellishly slow Delhi track which has proved the downfall of many a more experienced limited-overs customer – a strong sign of his promise.

But back to matters rugby: with Scott pitch-side at Absa Stadium, Hugh Bladen and Joel Stransky will handle English “booth” commentary, while Hennie Koertzen and Kobus Wiese take care of Afrikaans.

For the later kick-off, the WP-Bulls showdown at Newlands, a slightly Cape-leaning English team of Matt Pearce and Bob Skinstad (they’ve become a bit of a “firm”) have the blow-by-blow task, with Xola Ntshinga and Naas Botha (ah, some Bulls balance …) pitch-side. Afrikaans duties are performed by John van Rensburg and Breyton Paulse (oops, that’s the balance tilted WeePee way again), with a Xhosa option provided by Kaunda Ntunjwa and Makhaya Jack.

More seriously, though, I don’t think there’s been major cause of late to suggest any of the SuperSport commentators overly hammer in their “regional” affiliations. Do you?

Rob’s awesome foursome:

1 Cape Cobras v Victoria Bushrangers, Champions League cricket
, Bangalore, Saturday 12:30, SS2 & CSN
The Cobras, South Africa’s Twenty20 champions, are unbeaten after the group phase, looking like an increasingly good shout for the enticing US$2.5m first prize, and open their Super Eight account with a maiden encounter against Aussie opposition at the tournament. Andrew Puttick’s side will have had a week’s break since the Otago victory -- which may be a good or bad thing – but ought to fancy their chances against a Bushrangers side who, peculiarly, fell 15 runs short of beating Wayamba despite only losing four wickets in the chase. Brad Hodge’s fatally stodgy, unbeaten 44 after opening the innings was not exactly Puttick- or Duminy-like, was it? Maybe they’ll show him how, etc …

2 Sharks v Cheetahs, Absa Currie Cup rugby semi-final, Durban, Saturday 14:30, M-Net & SS1
Voila! As if on perfect cue, the Sharks have named a pretty much full-strength XV for the first time in the Currie Cup season. With players like Beast Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Jean Deysel and Johann Muller passed fit at the eleventh hour, their pack suddenly looks admirably equipped to withstand the expected Cheetahs onslaught up front. The visitors are a dangerous last-four wildcard, it is true, and will seek inspiration from their 31-6 humbling of the Sharks in the Super 14 much earlier in the year. But they played out of their skins that day, and Stefan Terblanche’s troops can subsequently claim the home-and-away “double” over these opponents in the Currie Cup. Definitely Sharks again, for me.

3 Western Province v Blue Bulls, Absa Currie Cup rugby semi-final, Cape Town, Saturday 17:00, M-Net & SS1
Succumbing with real valour would be a fairly decent outcome for Province in this rekindling of old south-north passions, and an indicator of just how their revival quest has come. Why do I say “succumbing with valour”? Because that, frankly, is what I believe will happen. Yes, they’ll be the gutsy little ‘un not quite capable of landing the decisive stone on Goliath’s temple. I simply feel the Bulls’ famous muscularity will be a tad too much for WP, allowing Fourie du Preez and Morne Steyn to boss, boss and boss again with the boot. Bulls by seven to 10 points, says this realist Capetonian, with WP still a year or so shy of genuinely resurgent domestic superpower …

4 F1 Brazilian Grand Prix motorsport, Interlagos, Sunday 18:00, SS1 & CSN
It’s getting a bit nervy, isn’t it? Jenson Button just can’t quite land the knockout blow to his lingering title challengers, veteran team-mate Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel, who won in Japan last time out. All the Briton needs is to finish third here to put the drivers’ championship beyond doubt – regardless of the others’ placings – but maybe we’re yet going to go to the final race in Abu Dhabi in a fortnight to decide the champ. Felipe Massa won at Interlagos from pole position in his Ferrari last year. With so much at stake here, there could be a stronger element of thrills and spills in 2009. Note the evening start from a South African perspective.


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