Can Proteas fix the chaos?

2010-02-14 14:38

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – It will go down as one of the most bizarre first-innings scoreboards you will see in Test cricket.

The seasoned captain and opening batsman out in a blink, a massively restorative 200-plus second-wicket partnership featuring a century-maker on his emergency debut … and then all-fall-down carnage in the final session of the first day’s play.

Net outcome was fielding team India holding the second-Test aces rather ominously against South Africa after the topsy-turvy events at Eden Gardens in a hazy Kolkata on Sunday.

From the promising buds of a 450-plus total - and thus very likely shut-out of the series in their favour - the Proteas crumbled like a biscuit beneath a child’s clumsy foot.

When failing light forced an early close and the pumped-up Indians indicated their wish to take the new ball, South Africa had subsided nightmarishly to 266 for nine, all thanks to a 25-over spell after tea when seven wickets tumbled for the addition of only 38 runs.

From a Proteas point of view, you would love to be able to take comfort in the possibility that the pitch was beginning to play tricks and that perhaps the proverbial “runs already on the board” may turn out to be more meaningful than they presently appear.

The more worrying truth is that a strong element of self-destruction accompanied the rot: maybe the 209-run alliance between the awesomely in-form Hashim Amla and rookie Alviro Petersen at a breezy four to the over was a better indicator of how the surface is playing early in the crucial encounter?

Few of the batsmen in the sudden procession could truly be said to have succumbed to bamboozlement: Amla fell to a rash attempt at a stroke he so rarely plays – the pull – while Jacques Kallis, his partner in torment for the home side at Nagpur, skied a slog-sweep off Harbhajan Singh unusually early in his own innings.

And for JP Duminy, his paucity of runs is starting to take on Southern Cape drought proportions: he played down the wrong line to be leg before wicket to the cock-a-hoop Harbhajan for a golden duck.

It was the fourth time in as many Test matches this summer that he has been dismissed by an off-spinner and fifth in six – England’s Graeme Swann indisputably had his number in the shared series a few weeks ago.

Then what of AB de Villiers? Amidst the bedlam, his being run out for 12 while backing up too far was a bit like bombing a runaway veld fire with bucket-loads of braai Blitz … no help at all.

He is another player whose season in Test cricket has been notably below his best: impetuosity has too often accounted for him and he boasts a highest score of 64 in his sixth game of 2009/10, ordinary for a gifted player wishing to be the world’s best with the blade.

What weirdly mixed feelings Petersen – who only played because of Mark Boucher’s lingering back injury, with De Villiers required to keep wicket - would have had in the dressing room at the close: own jubilation at achieving a three-figure score on debut, yet part of team despondency, no doubt, over the nasty nosedive.

Clearly one of those cricketers who get better and more resolute with age, the 29-year-old earned the distinction of becoming the 89th instance, and 87th different player, of someone registering a century in maiden Test appearance.

There are two players, even more remarkably, to have earned successive “tons” in their debut Test – Lawrence Rowe (214 and 100 not out) for West Indies against New Zealand at Kingston in 1972, and Pakistan’s Yasir Hameed (170 and 105) against Bangladesh at Karachi in 2003.

The cool-headed Petersen is the third player to achieve that debut landmark for South Africa (after Andrew Hudson and Jacques Rudolph) and the sixth SA-born one: Kepler Wessels, presently the Proteas’ batting mentor, cracked 162 for Australia against England at Brisbane in 1982, while Matt Prior and Jonathan Trott have subsequently managed the feat for England.

Can South Africa wriggle pluckily out of this near-mess? Of course they can, the dream scenario being last pair Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell somehow nudging the Proteas rather closer to the satisfaction of the 300-mark, and then Dale Steyn, perhaps, carrying his rampant Nagpur strike-bowling form into Kolkata in a sea of red mist and Paul Harris bottling up the other end effectively.

Such nirvana, though, doesn’t happen every day.

Ravi Shastri noted in television commentary that days two and three may be the kindest for batting, and India are fortified by the return of experienced VVS Laxman, who boasts a Test average of 81 in this populous city where a vast crowd will egg their heroes on, you can be sure, in their reply innings.

The Proteas may be required to claw rather than romp their way back into this one, but it is not beyond them to do so …


  • Burgiesburnin - 2010-02-14 14:50

    Was this the plan?

  • Raggy - 2010-02-14 15:01

    Hahaha South Africa will always be chokers

  • James - 2010-02-14 15:18


  • Phillip - 2010-02-14 15:18

    Hey people and the editor of above comments, you all seem to be leaving out something or specifically our Cr?ptains play of late (last two years or so), and his so called captains decisions have not been of the best, All the past Captains have been dropped far lesser embarrassments to South African, but he seems to have someone in the back ground that the SA cricket board seem to be scared of or something, otherwise why is he still our Captain and still our opening batmen when he is really not playing well at all. I was listening to a commentator the other day that said when someone is not playing well send him back to his franchise where he can up his game and only when he has done that can he be picked for South Africa. Drop Graeme Smith please, stop blaming the rest of the team for his bad performances.

  • Jakes - 2010-02-14 15:28

    The Proteas are an embarrassment to our country! For a start they should get rid of the ever-arrogant Graeme Smith!

  • Andy - 2010-02-14 15:31

    @Burgies....Nah, I think they are still working on one!...

  • Jakes - 2010-02-14 15:32

    The Proteas are an embarrassment to our country! For a start they should get rid of the ever-arrogant Graeme Smith!

  • Time for a - 2010-02-14 15:34

    new captain, someone who is not wet behind the ears and egotistical....kudos to Pietersen very impressive! Johan

  • @phillip - 2010-02-14 15:35

    Phillip remind me again who scored the most runs in the test series against England just last month?

  • rob - 2010-02-14 15:38

    time for prince and JP to go

  • Choker - 2010-02-14 15:42


  • sandy - 2010-02-14 15:44

    aren't you just overreacting a teensy bit - last week they were the best, now they're the worst - the poetic license in this article is layed on way to thick...

  • Stephen - 2010-02-14 15:48

    Lets leave the boys alone! Graham has not done well but then when the chips are down he does come to the party and has done so many times. As for Duminy and Ashwell. Well they have the ability but they have no confidence at present and best to go back and get some domestic runs under the belt. I think AB has overstayed his welcome. His continuous disrespect for bowlers and fielders is why he never comes off. The odd 30, 40 or 50 is not good enough for someone supposedly oozing talent. I think a few hidings with a cane is in order for this undisciplined little boy!! As for the rest....well you can't come off all the time. Plus if the wicket is playing up India could be out for under 150 tomorrow and then we will be praising everyone. Lets wait until the result is out. Then shout your mouth off....if there is reason!

  • Rob - 2010-02-14 15:52

    It would be interesting to find out what the team thinks of Graham Smith! He is so past his best that he would not make his franchise side. The problem in cricket is that we keep referring to past performances. We are great at saying that "he is the best we have ...... look at his 2005 average" or " he scored so many centuaries 10 years ago". It is about time we start treating them like our soccer or rugby players. You are as good as your last performance. A poor performance and even the coach is replaced. When will somebody get rid of Smith or do we have to wait until he retires of old age? He is no longer worth that position and his body language says it all. Get rid of him and stop spending money for him to go and watch the Proteas playing and then claim the merit!

  • Nice One - 2010-02-14 15:54

    tipical South African Supporters - Always know better ??? But when they gave India a hidding a week ago you where probably the first ones to have something to say -

  • Sharkie43 - 2010-02-14 16:07

    @ Burgies - Well said. They are back in India, so the match fixing starts. They realised the score would run away from India, so they had to quickly make a plan to lose wickets. It's a Scam, lol.

  • abdul - 2010-02-14 16:08

    well done Hashim! keep it up-you the guy one can depend on-hardwork&determination can salvage this test

  • Steve - 2010-02-14 16:10

    Let's wait until they bat before passing judgement. We stuffed them in the last test, give the guys a chance. Why are Protea supporters such whingers?? When Man United lose are they the worst team in the land??

  • MonsterHond - 2010-02-14 16:11

    Rob, Maybe yoyu where not aroubnd when england Toured - not ten years ago - a month ago...... Graham smith is one of the best in the world on the rankings - and there you go openening your mouth for the world to see...... Prince andDuminy needs to whke up however.....

  • Graeme Smith - 2010-02-14 16:15

    Boys...It's now easy to predict the outcome of this game...India will score 500 + runs and bowl the chokers out for - 200 winning by an innings + runs...Word from your captain....Watch this space...Graeme

  • MikeyMike @ ALL Two faced supprters - 2010-02-14 16:22

    You bunch are a sorry lot. Last week it was all praise and now they chokers again. Shame, must be boring in your little worlds if all you can do is come onto a public forum nicely tucked behind your screens and keyboards and try tear the boys a new one. I think it might be time for you all to grow up a little. Either you support them or you don't, either way, there is no need to be childish and go nuts on here. Well done again Amla and congrats Petersen. Drop JP and Prince and all the two faced supporters.

  • Collitjies - 2010-02-14 16:29

    Smith and Kallis both past use by date. There plenty of up and coming youngsters waiting in the wings. Think of it this way, shortly the Proteas will be BEE only. Enjoy.

  • anton - 2010-02-14 16:32

    @Rob... Regarding Smith, agree that you can't judge him on his 2005 average. Instead judge him on his 2010 average - which is 65, with 2 centuries in 5 innings. What do you expect from the guy... a century every game?

  • JOHANN - 2010-02-14 16:38


  • Maverick - 2010-02-14 16:47

    All you poor Smith-bashing idiots... I can just shake my head and smile. You say "Ooh, his made of glass... Injures his pinky now he is crocked"... I say: Look at how he went out to bat with a broken hand trying to save a test. You say: "Stop looking at his 2005 average:... I say: "2005 average? That was a poor 52.1 against his 2008 average of 72!". What? You want his 2009 average? That is slightly lower at 34.7, but guess what! Matthew Hayden, that super-opening batsman of the Aussies, only averaged 32.5 in 2008 and 35.0 in 2009. Smith was on par with him in 2009, and far outscored him in 2008. So get of the "Smith is not good enough"-bandwagon and get a life! And just in case you are wondering, Smith had a better 2009 average than Hayden in one-dayers as well.

  • Jubulani - 2010-02-14 16:53

    Will this not maybe are next BIG match fixing scandal .?

  • Joe - 2010-02-14 16:56

    To all those who have been so keen to see Boucher go - see what happens when panic grips the middle order. His unsung 30's and 40's have so often stopped the rot. Likewise to those like Rob so keen to get rid of Smith, let's see howmuch guts is left in the team when he is gone too. A seven batsman line up is no guarantee for big scores. AB is supposed be taking over from Kallis one day but his panicky reaction to a tricky situation shows he has a helluva long way to go before he can be relied upon to bat his team out of trouble. It is irritating to see Kallis succumb to the propaganda about run rates. He often gets himself out by forcing it when he should shut his mind to ignorant local and malicious foreign criticism and bat the way he does best which was exactly what the team needed in the final session. One wonders how good the SA brains trust were about Singh, about his record at Eden Gardens and that bounce (what was missing for him in Nagpur) was the key. Perhaps Kallis wouldn't have been so keen to slog sweep if that had been discussed. I'm afraid time has run out for Prince and Duminy unless they can salvage something from the second innings . The seasonal failure of Duminy and Prince, a big factor in the stop / start Protea 2010, can not be tolerated any longerThey need to go back to provincial cricket because they clearly don't seem to be going to regain form by playing at test level. It is irritating to see Prince and Duminy get dismissed by identical balls. It makes one wonder how much communication there is in that team. (I guess Prince and Duminy can't be speaking to each other) Couldn't Duminy fathom he might be getting an identical ball first up? Did Wessels, Prince and Duminy not anticipate how Singh would attack the left handers?

  • ROELFIE - 2010-02-14 16:57

    Well, some (most) of the comments on sport blogs just confirms that the average Saffa fans are emotional, uninformed dimwits.

  • fakier - 2010-02-14 17:03

    Biff and company is doing except for Prince and Duminy. Amla is great.Well done, he also brings out the best in Kallis. As for Kallis there is still a place for him

  • Jaco - 2010-02-14 17:19

    The most pathetic element of SA cricket by far is... the non-cricket playing South African public. Just as a tiny example... we have a person here who calls himself "Collitjies", who writes this garbage: 'Smith and Kallis both past use by date.' If people like Collitjies and his ilk ever bother to study the game and also the numbers that appear on scoreboards week in and week out (not only this week's game), they'd know they're wrong about Smith. But to say Kallis is overstaying his welcome....? The same Kallis who was the biggest thorn in English flesh recently, and who whipped a mere 177 runs in last week's test... yeah right. With so many Collitjie-type "supporters" around, I take my hat off to the resolve of the Proteas to keep on doing their best for their country. And hey guys, collapses and bad sessions happen -- to every single frikkin' cricket-playing country, from national sides down to school level. It's a shame, but it's part and parcel of the game, and is no excuse for ill-informed luddites to come and post their cerebral diarrhea here.

  • Ndlovu - 2010-02-14 17:29

    You do not mention the name of the person who has been the most useless Protea of late. Prince!! He is of no use to man or beast. At least Duminy can field and bowl. Get rid of Prince!!!!! As for you guys who are always against Smith. Remember his courage, his stats and and his leadership ability. Smith should be left alone.

  • AD - 2010-02-14 17:31

    Guys, have a little faith in the Team!!

  • cicero - 2010-02-14 17:41

    Every batsman has an off-day, but when last did Duminy have an on-one? Some of the guys played rash shots, but I don't blame anyone in particular, except AB de Villiers. To be run out, and especially run out by yourself in a test match is probably the greatest sin in cricket. If AB wants to become "the best batsman in the world" he will have to teach himself a bit of discipline. It is good to aim at beingthe best individual, but in the context also of the best team. Become a team player AB, be prepared to do duty as keeper, and you will get to the top one day. You have the talent.

  • patrick bateman - 2010-02-14 17:42

    Graeme Smith is currently the 5th ranked batsmen in the world. His averages in the past 5 series have been- 61; 35.50; 65.20; 92 and 61.50. Can those halfwits saying that he should be dropped please provide one reason as to why he should not be in the team. I think certain people need to realise that the game of cricket is too difficult for their little brains to comprehend. Perhaps try watching ping pong.

  • Lesley - 2010-02-14 17:45

    Glad sa won 1st test but we maybe were lucky. Unfortunately, come on we all knew that sa was not going to win a series in India as we are arogant and I personally am not suprised what happened today. India was badly hurt and has woken up from being defeated in the first test and tomorrow they will bat exceptionally well as their top order is very strong. India will have a lead of at least 150 runs and will declare with 7 and a half sessions left to bowl sa out and win by an innings and xx runs. India will also remain the number one team until the end of the year when Australia play England. Sadly, we have got the players but we just don't have the mental strength to pull it through when it really matters. Congratulations, goes to India for being the best as we know from today's preformance that there is no way sa can fight it's way back into this test unless we get wickets in the first session tomorrow and we get one or two decisions going our way. Only positive from the series is the three centuries and dale steyn bowling n first test other then that nothing good can be said about our performance in India. Maybe, all our strength was used in the first test.

  • Dweebus - 2010-02-14 17:46

    What IS the problem, doesn't Amla even WANT a leather jacket? I blame global warming.

  • Rowan - 2010-02-14 17:48

    Unbelievable! Great writing Rob, keep 'em coming!

  • @Collitjies - 2010-02-14 18:23

    up and coming youngsters....... name them dummy, any team worth it's salt needs a balance between experience and youth. BEE yeh like that program works, the guys who get in will just feather their own nest and we will end like another Zim. go figure

  • marco seeing that's which is obscure - 2010-02-14 19:00

    I wouldn't press the panick buttons just yet even if we get bowled out tommorow morning for under 270 say cause that's what will no doubt happen.India still needs to surpass that total regardless of how formidibale they claim there batting line up is they still have to pass that and it's not so easier said than done.Let's wait and see what happens tommorow for at the moment every sports news report in Britain seems to think India are somehow in the accendancy and poised to level the series.If we was bowled out for 150 or less then yeah I'd be gloating if I was an Indian supporter but let's give our bowlers a chance and see what answer they can come up with in defence of our socalled "poor" 1st innings total at the end of tommorow evening hey.We got bowled out in Cape Town by England last month for I think 291 or something and then nearly won that match which ended in a lame draw.I'm not suggesting that will happen here but it be foolish for anyone to think this is all doom and gloom for SA from now till the last day.WAIT and SEE I'll say.Even if India scores 500+ runs they would still have to bat 2 full days to get that which means if the last wicket of Parnell/Morkel can hang on for at least for 30 minutes or so longer in the morning keeping in mind a possible early close to the day somewhere in the back of their minds 'cause of bad light or something than yeah we should then be able to force a draw at the very least.It just take smart thinking from us and forethought to force the issue and we'll be allright.

  • patrick bateman - 2010-02-14 19:09

    @Lesley. You are a prime example of a person for whom test cricket is too difficult to understand. A team does not win by an innings in India due to luck. Where did you purchase this crystal ball that tells you when India are going to declare and how many runs ahead they will be? Their "strong top order" didnt exactly shine in the last match. I reiterate- try watching ping pong- its a game you may be able to comprehend.

  • johan - 2010-02-14 19:49

    Amla was dropped for ODI in India. Duminy ,Kallis,AB SELECTED FOR IPL bUT FAILED MISERABLY today. If u cannot beat them buy them. Amla could not be bought. Old firm of Wessels, Cullinan,Boucher, Kallis AB return to India to pay respect to Hero. Hansie

  • Ndlovu - 2010-02-14 19:56

    Mr Editor, what's wrong with you? Why do protect your "journalists" against criticism? Why do you edit our comments. Mine was not racist or hate speech!!! Can't your "journalists" take criticism? Have they become like the ruling party? What about freedom of speech? I noticed you did not publish my comment on the Toyota debacle, but you allow Branquino to perpetrate his dribble!! You also allow THE MAN his racism! What are you afraid of??

  • ADAM - 2010-02-14 19:58

    When in India do as match fixers tell u to do.Kallis, AB, Duminy start rot and collapse. As usual blame rot/collapse on Amla. Someone has to take blame for bakshish. Brilliant journalists get paid well in India

  • MIke JJ - 2010-02-14 20:01

    @joe - well said. You know a lot more about the game than most of the others ..they will learn!

  • Hanno - 2010-02-14 20:08

    Joe...I coud'nt said it better. Can't believe some of the idiots posting here.

  • Rackermann - 2010-02-14 20:18

    I must agree - our average cricket supporters in SA know so little about the game and how it should be played, and by whom it should be played, that it is truly amazing how they can even make any sort of comments about the game. Let alone making any public comments, e.g. online, news papers, etc...It's actually scary to read some of these comments :) Any selector or individual that knows this great game of cricket, will put down the names of Jacques Kallis & Graeme Smith first, on any SA team sheet. Let's imagine you were crazy enough to leave them out - please, would somebody tell me who will fill their boots? :) If you have never played Cricket at a decent level, or you have never really understood the game from a very early age, I would suggest you skip the 'comments' section...We'd appreciate it :)

  • Les - 2010-02-14 20:45

    To patrick, I do understand test cricket and be honest you know yourselves that India will pass our total. I would say that ping pong is a sport that I don't understand. I also be realistic. Please comment again when India win by an innings and xx runs.

  • Thabo - 2010-02-14 20:55

    Can we pls get Neil McKenzie back in the team!!!

  • Ndlovu - 2010-02-14 22:10

    Lesley, you are at least 2 bails short of a wicket. You must be smoking something. A test is not won in the first innings unless you post something like the Proteas did last week. It ain't over until the Fat Lady sings or the last wicket has fallen. The Proteas you just cannot put them down. They always come back at you, like Boucher (we missed him today). As for being chokers I wonder how you would cope under the stress they have. Please stick to netball if you are a female or soccer if you are a male. SIMPLE!! Oh, and take Prince with you!!!!!!!

  • mutt - 2010-02-14 22:27

    Hey Mickey, Life are sweet!!