SA still wrapped in cobwebs

2011-10-13 22:56

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - I never really had a good feeling about Gary Kirsten opening his account as Proteas coach in victory over Australia at Newlands here on Thursday.

And the premonition proved well-founded, as the tourists nosed ahead in the two-match Twenty20 international series by five wickets with three balls to spare.

If anything, the Aussies made rather heavy weather of getting over the line, some of their batsmen succumbing to unnecessarily flamboyant strokes in the run-in to their target when a more level-headed approach would have seen them home with greater ease.

But South Africa - resting some blue-chip names and also minus the injured AB de Villiers and Albie Morkel - will take some comfort, in turn, from just taking the match into the last over; it made the game seem deceptively closer than it really was.

And they will bank their “cling-on” ability in this contest as something to take heart from for the return fixture at the Wanderers on Sunday.

Certainly Hashim Amla’s side looked inescapably like one which had come out of an unusually expansive off-season, whereas a few of the Australians had had the benefit of high-intensity combat away to Sri Lanka some two months ago.

Nevertheless, there would have been some concern in the South African dressing room about playing fairly comprehensive second fiddle to an Aussie side which was fielding as many as four debutants in the T20 format.

One of them, the teenage tearaway Pat Cummins from Sydney, certainly stamped his mark by giving a few Proteas batsmen a fair old “hurry up”; he ought to test the speed-gun even more spiritedly on the Highveld.

The Proteas were quickly in a pickle after winning the toss and predictably batting first, with easily their most experienced anchormen, former captain Graeme Smith and current leader Amla, out by the end of the third over and a considerable rebuilding job required by a line-up not exactly blessed by great depth with the willow.

Smith, who compounded a miserable night for himself by dropping Aussie master-blaster Shane Watson at slip when the later-named player of the match had just two of his 52 runs, succumbed again to his known woes against incisive left-arm seam, whilst Amla was guilty of a bit of “lazy running”, too upright as he tried to make his ground before being run out with his back to the ball.

At least the 10 for two situation allowed some younger players, JP Duminy and the particularly less seasoned Colin Ingram, to knuckle down to the restorative job, which they largely did with aplomb, even if the Proteas still came up shorter than an ideal “par” score on a track with good bounce but a hint of a two-paced phenomenon at times.

The 27-year-old local lad Duminy is developing a profitable little line in getting runs against Australia: this innings of 67 at a respectable strike rate of 126 from the No 4 spot represented his fourth half-century in T20 internationals and third against these particular foes.

Sadly all of the trio have been in losing SA causes: the first was his 78 at the MCG in January 2009, when David Warner made his debut for Australia and truly walloped his way to 89, and the second two days later at Brisbane when Duminy scored a consolation 69 not out.

Nobody needs reminding that the little left-hander also enjoys taking Test runs off the Aussies: he averages 48 against them whilst his overall average is 28.77 at present.

The Proteas’ rustiness was really just as evident when they took to the field: apart from the important Smith catching mishap, they allowed the visitors to get out of the blocks too swiftly so that the required run rate never became a genuinely stressful aspect for them.

A few of the South African bowlers struggled with their lines, especially, in earliest overs, although to the credit of Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne Morkel and Johan Botha, they showed good ticker in slightly curtailing the damage as all of them ended with decent economy rates  from completed four-over stints.

The new fielding adviser Mike Young has had precious little time with his charges yet, but will have noted overthrows and other glitches and higher collective standards are likely to follow - they may need to quickly, as the more “real” business of the ODIs begins as early as Wednesday.

Wayne Parnell or Ryan McLaren - perhaps even both, depending on conditions - may be in line for an outing at the Bullring on Sunday, after death specialist Rusty Theron had one of his less profitable outings for his country and was too easily smashed back down the track.

Hello Proteas ... that was your wake-up call!


South Africa:
Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Colin Ingram, JP Duminy, David Miller, Heino Kuhn, Johan Botha, Robin Peterson, Morne Morkel, Juan Theron, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Australia: Shane Watson, David Warner, Shaun Marsh, David Hussey, Cameron White, Steven Smith, Matthew Wade, Steve O'Keefe, Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Doug Bollinger.


  • adrian.bean - 2011-10-14 00:24

    Drop.... Smith ... Peterson... Tsotsobe!!! We might win then!

  • svr69 - 2011-10-14 02:19

    2 words define the prob: Graham Smith. 0 on batting scorecard, and dropped the catch of the player who basically won the game for Aus. Waste of space...

  • alansmart223 - 2011-10-14 02:38

    Good God ! ! When the heck are they going to get rid of that arrogant, clumsy, hopeless loser of Graeme Smith. To my mind he should stick to what he does best...stand around and do nothing. The minute I saw him on the park I knew we were going to loose this one. Others may feel different but thank God he is not our catain when the real OD's begin, or god forbid, maybe he will be.

      Roy - 2011-10-14 06:13

      Well said! Why we still keep using this loser is beyond me. They should have sacked him long ago because like the "Bokke" this guy's "experience is going to cost us. There are one or two others who,like Smith should not be in the team

  • Zion - 2011-10-14 05:50

    Looks like the Ozzies have become a thorn in the SA side. First we fall out of the bus with the Rugby now the cricket.

      Jim - 2011-10-14 08:34

      Must have been the umpires fault.

  • Commissioned - 2011-10-14 06:31

    Drop the sell by dates Smith, Peterson We have much better young players waiting

  • Leonard - 2011-10-14 07:13

    Smith should consider playing for Ireland.

      Jim - 2011-10-14 10:13

      He would win more games.

  • Juan - 2011-10-14 07:20

    At least with Smit we had a great captain playing a bit better than average in his position, with Smith...he played well three years ago and never a great captain but an average one? Please make space for better players!

  • Hannetjie - 2011-10-14 07:31

    PLEASE take Graeme Smith out - he contributed NOTHING and costed us the match!!! Only JP and Colin Ingram really looked comfortable at the wicket. Also Rusty Theron and Robin Peterson disappointing !!!!!!! Guys, you have to do MUCH better!!!!

  • Michael - 2011-10-14 07:33

    Smith must go now

      Brett - 2011-10-14 08:26

      I think far too often it is the tail that wags the dog in SA sport. Both Smit and Smith seem to be having control over the coaches and selectors. We should stop this rot because as we can see of late, it is costing us.

  • Charmain - 2011-10-14 07:33

    smith did not disappoint me once again GET RID OF THE OLD FART why can't they see he can't play her has proved that over and over again, I want to go and see a match but with him if he plays as well as he did last night I might just give him a slap, he got married thought that would made a difference HA HA

  • Jan - 2011-10-14 07:41

    I think Graeme Smith should be getting very worried about his place in the team in all formats of the game. Last night just again showed that he is struggling and to pick him after playing very little or no cricket in the past few months. A much better choice would have been Jacques Rudolph. He has been getting runs locally and also in England in the past year. Even in the first rounds of Super Sport matches he scored heavily. His challenges can therefore not be ignored much longer by the Andrew Hudson and other selectors. I think he will be a valuable addition to the team in all formats and provide stability in a position where Smith can currently very much be regarded as a cheap wicket. Hopefully Gary Kirsten will work a bit with Smith and he proves all of us wrong.

      Jan - 2011-10-14 11:18

      It was also interesting to see when Smith patrolled the outfield he was slow to get to the ball and then his throw was also surprisingly weak, not even getting directly back to the keeper without bouncing!! And this was on a relative small ground. Maybe Amla missed a little trick by not having a faster fielder with better arm on the fence. I my opinion Smith cost us a few runs with his lack of speed to the ball and then also a weak throw. Quite a number of 2's could have been cut down to 1's. Maybe Amla put him there to get Smith out of his ear!!

  • Caleb - 2011-10-14 08:25

    Same thing since he started playing, Big player, drags his left leg when into the shot and when the ball nips back, he has no choice but to follow through, gets him out every time! Drop smith and peterson! Jacques Rudolph,Ashwell Prince, Ryan Mclaren and Richard Levi have put their hands up this season!

  • BJ - 2011-10-14 09:17

    Smith lost all motivation when Amla said Proteas will give their earnings to charity.

  • Praveen - 2011-10-14 09:43

    On a positive note, it was pleasing to see Hashim Amlas Captaincy was refreshingly daring.

      Greg - 2011-10-14 10:03

      But Smith still could not help himself in trying to give Amla some advice. Smith should have kept as far away from Amla as possible considering his match-dropping performance.

  • Ivan - 2011-10-14 10:38

    Greame Smith should be investigated for match fixing. Nobody is that useless and still gets picked for every game. Maybe the selectors are in on it as well????

  • Anthony - 2011-10-14 11:20

    gary--please drop 'banger in mash' he is well past his sell by date

  • walabuschagne - 2011-10-14 12:15

    South Africa in under prepared for such an important series. Why was warm up games never arranged to get the cob web off the bats. Its the Aussies!! You want to compete, you better prepare. And by the looks of things..its going to be a long season for the Protea supporters. A guy like Jacques Rudolph in sublime form not even a callup while others coming from injury, playing two club games gets the nod. Something is wrong with this picture.

  • Mpho - 2011-10-14 12:59

    Knee meet Jerk, Jerk this is Knee.... First game of the season, both teams showed rust. That said, SA would never roll into Australia with two débutante bowlers and win.

  • Pieter - 2011-10-14 13:49

    The fans have reached consensus: At least Smith must go! Selectors, what are you going to do about it? If you pick him again and we lose again, you should be fired!

  • dion.chinnaiah - 2011-10-14 14:13

    What the h### !! Once again, Smith has cost us a win!! Duck on the scorecard, a dropped catch that basically cost us the game and poor fielding to top it all!!! When are we going to get rid of the buffoon?! He is messing up our cricket! Smith does not belong in any Protea team. His total lack of commitment to the team, as proven by his disappearing act after our dismissal from the WC, should have been reason enough to drop him for good. When was the last time he performed as a player? And yet he was retained as the captain match after match after match when an on - form player could have replaced him. What experience can he bring to the current team? Or to any Protea team? His batting stance is all wrong for starters! No wonder he keeps playing his favourite poking shot that 9/10 times costs him his wicket. CSA need to wake up real fast if they want stadiums to stay filled! Smith is unnecessary baggage and should be dropped for GOOD!!

      Anthony - 2011-10-14 14:22

      smiths stats-- last 10 games and most recent 20/20 and one day games [5 each] average 16 with 2 ducks as opening bat unacecptable drop 'banger and mash' way past sell by date

  • Gcwabe.KaMavovo - 2011-10-15 11:17

    Bring back Herschelle Gibbs.

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