Eng can't budge SA's rock

2009-12-16 19:47

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Centurion – For those South Africans who respect the weight of omens, the Proteas losing their captain Graeme Smith for a seven-ball duck early in the first Test against England at SuperSport Park here must have been considered a particularly bad one.

The same fate, after all, befell the imposing captain on day one of the opening encounter in Port Elizabeth five years ago, his team lost the match and then later the series by a narrow 2-1 margin.

Despite some other luminary acts in their batting midst these days, it might still be said that South Africa’s fate at the crease hangs heavily on whether either of their renowned “big two” – call it the Biff-and-Jakes firm -- comes off.

Jacques Kallis, believe it or not, registered a first-knock nought at St George’s Park too, and it was left to Boeta Dippenaar and Jacques Rudolph to calm the butterflies then – even if ultimately in vain as England got a crucial nose in front in the summer.

But lightning seldom strikes twice and the admirably obdurate right-hander’s 32nd Test century and sixth against these opponents on Wednesday moved his country from a slightly nervy start into a position of minor but satisfying superiority by the close.

This organ implored the Proteas brains trust only a few days ago to play Kallis in the first Test, even if sans a bowling role as he continues his rehabilitation from a rib fracture.

And how precious his presence was – whether or not you want to reverently brand him a wounded warrior in some senses -- as South Africa ground their way, in an intriguing day’s play for the purist, to 262 for four and at least a healthy sniff of a total in the psychologically comfortable region of 375 or perhaps more.

The Proteas’ “foundation” task is far from completed, of course, as the unbeaten fifth-wicket alliance of 103 between Kallis and JP Duminy – vitally, they batted for the duration of the final session – may well be required to prosper further if the hosts are to post the sort of score they want.

For it is worth bearing in mind that South Africa are considered to have an all-too-expansive tail in Test matches.

Duminy, still playing in only his seventh Test, remember, played with commendable composure and fortitude as England tried to rough him up with short-pitched deliveries, and he was quite happy to let Kallis, not exactly a Sehwag for strike-rate relish himself, do the lion’s share of the scoring (59 of the tally to his 38) as their stand reached the three-figure mark.

And yet nobody can credibly whinge about South Africa’s fairly cautious rate of knots on a pitch that was spicy in the first session and then began to show some signs of deviant bounce (it ought to get that man with the basketballer’s build, Morne Morkel, pretty interested) after England had won the toss and inserted Smith and company.

Kallis basically dropped anchor as only he knows how, showing a near-impregnable defence for one so supposedly short of “middle” time recently and every now and then emerging from his shell to play truly majestic attacking strokes – like his strangely flamboyant pull, where his front foot lifts high as if to underline the sheer imperiousness of his action.

Further kudos to him is that he has not played a first-class knock of any kind since the last Test against Australia at Newlands last season, so this was a back-to-back century at international level.

Whatever happens on day two, he is going to swell further his Test average at this venue – pleasingly about three-quarters full at one stage – which stood at 60.73 going into this encounter.

And whenever Kallis “overnights” beyond the century mark, it is almost impossible not to contemplate at least the possibility that he might go on to reach that still elusive double-ton mark.

If he and Duminy get through the first hour or two on Thursday, with what remains a virtually new ball in England’s hands, such thoughts will only gather momentum – especially with the visitors already showing evidence that a four-man specialist attack is not the ideal way to try to bowl a team out twice in what looks like staying unrelentingly hot weather until the weekend.

England’s engagingly larger-than-life off-spinner, Graeme Swann, faced up to the media after the close, and put a brave face on England’s marginally second-fiddle status as things stand.

“The fact that we’re not going for three an over is a positive to take out,” he said.

“Obviously we would have liked more than four wickets, but we’re fairly happy they
haven’t got away from us.

“We’re not unhappy with our decision to bowl – stats show that bowling first here can be pretty lucrative. We were justified in doing what we did.

“Kallis is a class player -- their guy who holds it all together.”

Grateful South Africans, of course, appreciate that more than most …


  • Gruntfuttock of Africa - 2009-12-16 21:00

    Do we detect a sense of "fill seats at all costs" from our "experts" again? Do we detect a sense that all commentators have been told to praise anything above the sublime in the belief that cricket lovers will rush to the grounds and spend a small fortune to boost CSA coffers? Smith is in form again, our wonderful and experienced batsmen plod at 3 runs an over and all is fantastic. We are being conned even more than ever!!

  • The Fan - 2009-12-16 21:09

    Funny how Friedel de Wet just happened to leapfrog both Parnell and Tsotsobe into the test line-up, after both these players have been in the squad long before him, and have both performed well on the odd occasion of being given a chance. All non-white players will wait sometimes for years (others never even get a chance), carrying drinks, sweating in the nets, and giving their all, only to be told they need time to "get used to the setup" and "acclimatise" to the rigours of international cricket...funny how neither Friedel nor McLaren ever needed to "get used to the setup"...funny how he was the only bowler retained to cover for Steyn, even though he has only been included in the squad for a few days... Funny, funny, funny....

  • Mike JJ from Bothas Hill - 2009-12-16 21:18

    Kallis is the BEST batsman & player that SA has ever had - or will EVER have! His record speaks for itself - protect him for the future. The fact that he is also an outstanding bowler & slip fielder is a bonus. His critics know nothing about cricket!

  • Mark - 2009-12-16 21:36

    Only problem with Kallis, as great as he is, is that he can't bat overnight - which. partially at least, explains why he has never scored that elusive double ton.

  • GT - 2009-12-16 21:59

    A double hundred would be nice thanks Jakes!

  • shortfinals - 2009-12-16 22:11

    A long artical realy saying very little!!

  • MB - 2009-12-16 23:46

    Great innings Jacques, even more so considering he has his doubters. He has to be an automatic choice for any test squad. Heres hoping he rubs the salt in and scores a double century

  • The Fan 2 - 2009-12-17 00:17

    Can't agree with The Fan" more. JP needed 2 years of drinks carrying to acclimatize - and then needed fate to intervene. AB stepped right in as well. I suppose Mickey Mouse and co believe that only non-whites need this babying.........

  • Apple320 - 2009-12-17 06:33

    'Article' my dear man.

  • Zaq - 2009-12-17 06:39

    That Smiff again! Another pathetic performance, make one good/outstanding innings, then nothing for three or four matches! Aghhh! Get rid of that man, quickly please!

  • Chris - 2009-12-17 06:42

    Great knock by King Kallis... boy is it good to have him back! Must agree that Parnell or Tsotsobe should have got in before de Wet. With only four front-line bowlers, variety is so important to bagging 20 wickets.

  • Yorker - 2009-12-17 07:18

    @ the fan: I'm inclined to agree with you but not on the race issue but on the principle of player selection. Parnell and Tsotsobe have been in the squad for a while. Just like Duminy was afforded a chance to replace an injured player so should they have. I feel Parnell shoul have been given the opportunity as he has over and over again proved to be handy bowler. Our scoring rate is dissapointing but maybe Thursday the pitch will come to the party. Good luck SA and I hoe to see Kallis get a double TON. Fingers crossed

  • Leon - 2009-12-17 07:27

    Agreed Gruntfuttock. We are barely hanging on after another Biff blunder and suddenly we are the best side in the world. We are not.

  • VROTEA - 2009-12-17 07:27

    Aghh, just because kallis made 100 does not mean your VROTEAS is going to win. For god sake, wake up, there is still 4 days left! You act like you won the test already!!!!!!! Watch KP & J.Trott hit double tons, put up a lead of 300 send you in to bat again and destory you with their bowling!!! I bet they will win you with at least 200 runs!!!! Suur gatte!!!!

  • Robz - 2009-12-17 07:31

    I asked it before and now I am asking it again. Please take the scorecards of our batsmen and remove the top 10% of the scores of each individual. Then calculate the average of the 90% which is left for each. I am sure that Smith will remain with an average of less than ten per match. Maybe even less than five. Is it allowed that he may captain the team from twelfth man position? Slow batting? For a 5 day test it is the norm to score around 3 runs an over. I think the slowest duck was seventy balls.

  • dave of EP - 2009-12-17 07:37

    what a load of waffle. How about giving a couple of actual scores; like Kallis's. Tell us about the day's play, instead of trying to show us how clever you are with words -- some of which are actually superfluous and meaningless.

  • Barry - 2009-12-17 07:55

    Jacques - you the best next to Greame Pollock, by virtue of sheer weight of runs imposed on teams...... Keep us proud and score that double..!!! And that from a man who has not batted for a while - class always rises to the top...

  • pete - 2009-12-17 07:55

    If kallis is the best in sa, well, then sa should start getting quality players, cause with kallis the best in sa, it is a major concern.

  • Justin - 2009-12-17 08:06

    @ The Fan... Stop this color excuse!!! Please!!! Look at De Wet's record this season, he is an excellent bowler, stop thinking about color, think about the in form players, that represent OUR South Africa!!!! Yes I agree with you that Parnell and Tsotsobe is part of the squad, but they are not inform, give them time with their franchise and let them come back when they deserve to be picked... I expect you to make an apology if De Wet wins the test for us with his pace!!!

  • what a laugh - 2009-12-17 08:23

    What a laugh! This guy should be writing plays and not sport articles! Good on you Jacques, hope you get that elusive double and sure as hell I hope JP gets enough time in the middle to sort out his bouncer issues. That lad's got heaps of talent!

  • Kallis Fan - 2009-12-17 08:25

    Kallis is the best! SA will cry when he is gone!

  • Raj - 2009-12-17 08:35

    I feel for the proteas..while the test is far from over the english bowling was poor.. and SA have done well to get where they are...and kallis has done exceptionally well...but people like Vrotea and robz still pop up. What makes England so grand- and why when we speak of England do we speak so highly of Trott and pietersen- are they the opitimy of what young white youth would liek to aspire to - that they hate there own country so much that they would like to " move" somehwere else, perform and then sticvk it to us? Pietersen has been struggling for longer than Smith now... and Trott has done nothing yet....barely a season under his belt. Wish you could show as much faith in Sa as you do the no 6 ranked side in world test cricket......

  • @pete - 2009-12-17 09:03

    Pete, You have absolutely no clue of what you are talking about. Kallis is not only the best for South Africa but one of the best in the world. you are probably one of those fans that enjoy the likes of Gibbs. where when he has luck on his side he gets a huge score and then does absolutely nothing for the next 10 games before scoring another big innings. I would take the consistent high scoring Kallis over any player in the world. His averages tell the tale...dork!

  • jj - 2009-12-17 09:07

    Jakes, the living legend! Time and time again this amazing cricketer restores order and balance to our performances. You are my favourite cricketer before Tendulkar and Ponting. I just cannot believe how many times the critics underestimate your worth. May the runs and seasons be bountiful for as long as possible..

  • denise - 2009-12-17 09:08

    Kallis is in a "Class of his Own". He is great

  • Proud Protea - 2009-12-17 09:08

    Most of you idiots know absolutely nothing about test cricket so please don't bother watching the game and even better just be quiet. Test match cricket is not about scoring 400 runs in a day because there's 90 overs available. The pitch and the teams position (especially with Smith out early) has be considered when you look at scoring rates and none of our batsmen apart from de Villiers is a quick scorer by nature. If you want runs scored at blistering pace stick to watching 20/20's and leave "real" cricket alone. @ Robz: Test cricket is about failing hard and coming back gloriously and the good players, like Kallis and Smith, know how to do this all too well so who knows what you are on about when you say take away 10% of there scores and then look at the doesn't work like that if it did then Bradman wouldn't be as great either nor would Tendulkar and Lara because between periods of lean spells comes very fruitful scoring ones. No batsmen in the 110 year history of the game has been able to consistently go out and score runs game after game. @ Vrotea: You sir are a jack@ss of the highest order. Please go away...and please take your man-lover Pete with you. Smith and Kallis are game breakers (as if they haven't proved this time and time again) and testiment to that is every team we've played against valuing their wickets the most. Kallis is King and I'm hoping we get another 3-4 years out of him before he hangs up his boots. He is a rare talent that we have been ever so lucky to have lived through an era when Tendulkar, Ponting, Lara, Dravid and Kallis thrived and showed us the skill and craft of batsmanship. BTW Rob: Great article. You are an exceptional writer. Sports Illustrated is a lesser magazine without you.

  • Seeps - 2009-12-17 09:09

    I'm going to lean to supporting the fan on his statement simply because let's face facts as good a player as AB is he literally walked into the Proteas squad and team and has never been dropped since??? Another Prime example is the Skipper Graeme Smith. Hersch has a lean run and get's dropped. Parnell is a quality bowler and we should've given him a shot at test cricket. Who the hell Is De Wet anyway, what has he done that's so great? Wasn't Rusty Theron the talk of the town last season??? Mickey Mouse is a moron and we need a more intelligent coach and Biff has been skipper so long he thinks he is Protea's cricket.

  • Lesley Marshall - 2009-12-17 09:19

    I agree with Vrotea that there are 4 days left & SA has far from won the game but we can do without pessimist who believe England can still win the game, although the ton by Jaques has not won the game for us as S African supporters, it has given us momentum to go on to win. As the saying goes you cant win a test match in the first session but you can lose the game & it's safe to say that the momentum is clearly with SA

  • Smith - 2009-12-17 09:22

    Great article. As I unforgivingly missed the entire days play. I found the write-up nice and thorough.

  • @Vrotea - 2009-12-17 09:27

    What the hell are you on, seems you are a the the same as all these all black rugby supporters in S.A even if South africa wins all the tourneys you will still believe your team is better, england should maybe get english players to play and the we can see where they end up.

  • Stephen - 2009-12-17 09:44

    @Proud Protea, you make good points, but i am afraid its above most of these people that always post these whiney comments. Like that Vrotea who thinks he is hilarious, but in reality he is just a sad idiot.

  • Lucky ton - 2009-12-17 09:45

    Kallis' ton was pure luck,should have been given out lbw twice,on Swann and Anderson long before Kallis even made a half century. Thanks to the umpire for extending his presense on the pitch. Same thing refs do to help Blue Bulls win .He won't last long this morning,first three overs he's out,fat pig!

  • shocking - 2009-12-17 09:49

    Wonderfully written article, a pleasure to read, thank you. Kallis you beauty, you are truly a great batsmen, pity that some 'South Africans' don't like you or criticise you just because you white, so sad that they can't admire talent for what it is! Well played Ashwell Prince, you saw off most of the early 'sting' in England's bowling, once again well played Prince on your return to the team from injury and in a new role batting at opener! Duminy, I hope you reach a ton today and well done on negotiating the bouncers that England threw at you yesterday, I believe that once you completely master your play against the bouncer you will be our next great batsmen for the next decade or more. Go Proteas, you guys rock:)

  • ArrieM - 2009-12-17 09:52

    Proud Protea, thanks for your sensible contribution. Wish there more proud proteas with sensible comments.

  • Lily White - 2009-12-17 10:00

    There is certainly something weird about SA selection most times. I still cannot understand what the appeal is as far as Morne Morkel is concerned. According to results, Parnell is head and shoulders above Morkel on any day. Ntini was chosen to a certain extent largely because it's his 100th test match. Hopefully he performs as only he can and gets 14 wickets in this test. All in all, good luck to the Proteas, gonna watch the highlights on this one.

  • GeeMac - 2009-12-17 10:14

    I couldn't agree more with The Fan’s post below. I was very surprised by the decision to include Friedel de Wet over Tsotsobe. Is he unavailable or something?

  • Les - 2009-12-17 10:39

    AND VROTEA I dont think that we are acting like the game is won, it was just a great innings from Kallis and puts us on the front foot. too many sessions left to call a winner so early. SOME SOUTH AFRICANS PLAY FOR THEIR COUNTRY AND OTHER 'SOUTH AFRICANS' PLAY FOR POUNDS... Pietersen and Trott are shameful and a disgrace... INTERNATIONAL cricket is becoming like a champions league..... with players playing for who they want to and NOT at all representative of the nation that they play for.

  • Another Proud Protea. - 2009-12-17 11:00

    @ Proud Protea. I'm with you on all of your points. It seems to me that everyone with 5 cents to throw in actually know little or nothing about test cricket. Long live Jakes today for that elusive 200.

  • Stephen - 2009-12-17 11:04

    @Lucky ton, I watched the innings and it was no luck involved you idiot

  • Wordsmith - 2009-12-17 12:02

    Mike - you just want to get your hands on the money!

  • pages:
  • 1