English wolf SA 'carvery'

2009-11-23 09:30

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – England are dining royally at a tasty South African one-day international buffet.

GALLERY: Proteas vs England

These teams have played each other twice in the 50-overs format this season, both at SuperSport Park, and each time the tourists’ batsmen have gorged themselves silly.

First it was the Champions Trophy stinger in late spring, when England’s 323 for eight was simply too much to chase down, despite Graeme Smith’s ballsy 141 in the reply.

Fewer runs were on offer in what was effectively the first game of a now four-match series on Sunday -- following the Wanderers washout -- but this time Andrew Strauss’s outfit were even more commanding as they romped to victory by seven wickets with a full four overs in hand.

The acute heartburn at the two-game banquet has belonged entirely to the Proteas and, although it is early days in the broader summer hostilities, the portents suddenly do not look especially good from a home point of view.

A well-oiled machine at the end of 2008/09, boasting 7-3 supremacy in 10 matches over Australia, no less, several parts to that South African motor appear to have inexplicably seized up at once, what with the Champions Trophy disappointment and now 0-1 status in a shortened bilateral series.

Having slipped into third spot on the ICC rankings, nothing less than triumph over England – themselves humiliated 6-1 at home by the resurgent Aussies just a few weeks ago, let’s not forget – will kick-start any climb back to the top of the global pile by Smith’s troops.

And for that to happen, simple arithmetic tells you starkly that only a hat-trick of Proteas wins, starting at Newlands on Friday, will facilitate it. The against-the-grain quest is not helped by England sporting six ODI wins on the trot against their current foes.

Those here who instinctively view glasses as half-full will comfort themselves in the knowledge that South Africa genuinely seemed an ambitious and unflappable ODI side last season, and really ought to be capable of biting back with some venom.

The more doomsday-minded will ask why some wheels have spun off with such undignified haste, while similarly crumpling their brows over England’s northward curve and Capetonian-born Jonathan Trott’s strong signal of intent against them for the weeks ahead.

Source of immediate angst

As had already been feared, too, the bowling department, especially, is a source of immediate Proteas angst.

Certainly the English batsmen have knocked some impressively deep psychological pegs into local soil, and the only hopes of the tent blowing away may lie in South Africa’s steely record at Newlands and the prospect - a welcome one, that - of a full house to roar the home side along.

The Proteas have won 24 of their 27 ODIs at this venue, including each of the last nine and all three prior encounters against England.

And the last of those was a 108-run bludgeoning during the 2004/05 series, when Herschelle Gibbs smacked 100 off 115 balls and Justin Kemp’s whirlwind 57 off 36 is also a goose-pimply memory to many.

With Jacques Kallis laid low for the entire series, the squad recall for the very same Gibbs – he of the sometimes mercurial blade and always infectious brilliance in the field – on Sunday night was an extremely wise route to follow by Mike Procter and company.

Of course the Kallis void will be a factor in dousing some of South Africa’s bowling firepower, not to mention upsetting team balance, but shortcomings with the ball appear to run well deeper than that.

A brutal truth is that the Proteas’ top strike bowler and current first-choice spinner have been savaged in successive ODIs by England.

Dale Steyn cranked up some really sizzling pace occasionally on Sunday, and that is a healthy development for the Test series to follow, but he also took some “tap” in a glaringly ragged finishing spell and his figures from the pair of encounters read 20-0-123-1.

Likewise, the supposed “bulldog” Roelof van der Merwe, who appears to have temporarily leapfrogged Johan Botha in the slow-bowling pecking order, has also found that life at this level is not simply an unrelenting fairytale – he has been carted for 122 runs in only 18 (wicketless) overs.

So at least two supposedly key elements of the South African arsenal are currently under pressure and not doing their “strike” bit, and it has left the slightly samey, medium-fast remainder of the attack – Ryan McLaren, Charl Langeveldt and Albie Morkel – simultaneously vulnerable to attack with ample opposition wickets usually in hand.

If there are silver linings, McLaren is showing some signs of developing Shaun Pollock-like parsimony, Langeveldt should get better rather than worse as he progressively recaptures fitness and Wayne Parnell will hopefully be in a position to offer left-arm pace variety for Newlands or very shortly afterwards.

And there is one other factor to consider amidst a climate of mild Proteas unease: the England bowling isn’t exactly moving mountains either …


  • Gollie - 2009-11-23 09:50

    I think Botha has been overlooked too quickly - in the short stint that he and Van der Merwe operated in tandem (one left-arm, one right-arm, one spinning it in, one spinning it away) they were very successful together, smothering teams with a couple of quick overs and before the opposition knew, they were behind the required rate. Spinners can also hunt in pairs! Unfortunately it seems that we have reverted to our old Achille's Heel - a too predictable right-arm over the wicket attack ...

  • zolani - 2009-11-23 09:51

    It was a great Sunday on the Couch, The cricket was good, and the game closer than you think, The morning soggy conditions were difficult and it was great to see us get 250, but as the pitch dried up and it got warmer batting became easyier, we have great talent in SA and a great leader, just looking forward to this or loose just give us good fair cricket

  • GC - 2009-11-23 09:54

    I wish they would stop talking so much in the press beforehand and rather do their talking on the field. The proteas have turned into the big mouths of the game, please go back to your humble hard working attitude before you became no1 .Yesterday was embarrasing to say the least...

  • Gollie - 2009-11-23 10:01

    I think Botha has been overlooked too quickly - in the short stint that he and Van der Merwe operated in tandem (one left-arm, one right-arm, one spinning it in, one spinning it away) they were very successful, smothering teams with a couple of quick overs and before the opposition knew, they were behind the required rate. Spinners also hunt in pairs! And I think Van der Merwe had much of his success owing to Botha's support from the other end. Unfortunately it seems that we have reverted to our old Achilles’ Heel - a too predictable right-arm over the wicket attack ...

  • English Rose - 2009-11-23 10:03

    south africa are a useless crickeiting side and certainly did not deserve their world number 1 ranking. it seems southa frican sports is in trouble, your rugy side is falling appart your cricket side is falling appart your athletics is already appart at least you have your disabled swimmers doing you proud.

  • Malume - 2009-11-23 10:07

    "the England bowling isn’t exactly moving mountains either … " So table mountain is safe for now?? hehehe,looking forward to the game on Friday,i'll be at Newlands.Go Proteas,you got my support.

  • @GC - 2009-11-23 10:23

    The players dont hold media confrences, the media does, they then twist the players words so people like you read and believe them, make up your own mind read the stats, on cricinfo. it is also less biased

  • Mike@CapeT - 2009-11-23 10:33

    English Rose should learn how to spell before he/she starts commenting on the state of SA sport. For the record, SA can only get better....can England?

  • Uncle - 2009-11-23 10:37

    This is a lame analogy.

  • @Gollie - 2009-11-23 10:37

    Botha is not getting game because he will only be allowed to bowl one type of ball, he has be cited for bowling the doosra and the quick ball...

  • GeePMB - 2009-11-23 10:41

    We have not won against the poms in the last SIX One Dayer's! Kinda tells a story hey!

  • ProudlySA - 2009-11-23 10:46

    @ English Rose. So your cricket side beat us in a few encounters, big deal, now you predict the fall of SA sport while you just lost a cricket ODI series 6-1 to the ausies and your rugby where beaten by australia and waisted by the all blacks, on home soil none the less. Both sides which our boks made look small during the tri-nations, both home and away. Sure we may be going through a slump, which quite honostly is due more to some experimental coaches than lack of talent, but we will rise again as we always do and I can assure you it will not take long and there will be no "rebuilding phase" required. You may have one a few battles, but a long summer of war fare remains!

  • Cornelius - 2009-11-23 10:52

    SA Cricket has been going backwards for some time, luckely so have allot of the teams so we don't look that bad, i few things needs to change if SA want to be crowned the number 1 team in the world, why is boucher still playing?, dont get me wrong, he is a good wicket keeper, but in the modern game, your wicket keeper needs to be a specialist batsmen, this gives you a extra bowler or a stronger batting line up, and also, really Albie Morkel does not deserve to be in this team, he has got absolutely no cricket talent, he cant bat, he cant bowl, he is a poor fielder, why do the keep playing him?, if i was the cricket bosses, this would be my team 1.G.Smith 2.H.Amla Villiers (WK) 4.JP Dumminy 5.J.Kallis 6.R.Mclaren 7.J.Botha 8.W.Parnell 9.M.Morkel 10.L Tsotsobe 11.D.Steyn, i know Kallis is ruled out, but lets replace him with a upcoming star, D.Elgar, or you can go for a all rounder, Q.Friend, why in the heaven would you call up old inconsistent H.Gibbs???? why why why????, why not Loots Bosman?, if you don't want to play AB as a wicketkeeper, why not play M.Van Wyk in kallis place?, he shines with the Bat.....

  • GS@Gollie - 2009-11-23 11:02

    I'm not sure I can agree with you about Botha and vd Merwe. Remember how England climbed into them both during the Champions Trophy? Botha is definitely nowhere near the bowler that he was when he was still allowed to bowl the doosra. Perhaps if he can develop some other variations such as using flight and guile, he might improve again. I am also getting a bit worried about vd Merwe. The opposition seem to have worked him out and he doesn't appear to put much thought into his deliveries, which has made him rather ineffective. I can't fault his competitiveness and enthusiasm though.

  • Coco - 2009-11-23 11:02

    @english rose - your poor spelling and use of the queen's language clearly reflects not only your own IQ, but also the state of the English education system, which we all know is in a bad state!. You got wasted in the 2nd pro20, after winning the 1st one with 1 run on D/L (go look up D/L if you don't know what it stands for). Typical pommie you go motormouth after one win in the ODI's. I won't even talk about the rubbish you call rugby - you did not belong on the same field as the Kiwis. Pity the Boks won't play you - you would be beaten to a sorry english pulp.

  • MACK - 2009-11-23 11:08

    @Englishrose ,you are 100% correct.......when we fought for a segregated South Africa ,you guys in Europe banned us ,forcing this mess upon us, in what used to be the best country in the world.Our sides are full of people that shouldnt be there ,and our stars are in your sides in England. Suppose it was one way for you guys to get a win.I cant wait for the SWC , that every european can see what a farce ,mess and dangerous place sunny SA is.Critisize me if you wish ,facts are facts !

  • Capetonian - 2009-11-23 11:15

    I think zolani is about the only proper cricket supporter here! Its about the GAME...and enjoying it for what it is. Just because England outplayed us doesn't make it a 'bad' game. All teams lose at some stage...get a grip people.

  • Eng Bulldog - 2009-11-23 11:16

    We will take all your players and be no.1, "Swing low sweet chariot"

  • Larry - 2009-11-23 11:22

    Mickey and Graham will sort it out? They have a plan... or another excuse if the plan does not work.

  • zolani - 2009-11-23 11:31

    Where does the english players live when they tour south Africa? With their parents.

  • Dave Hiscock - 2009-11-23 11:41

    Hey, did anyone spot Roelie's chinaman? hahahahaha.... He bowled it so brilliantly and was so well disguised, that no one could spot it. hahahahaha... Heck, my overweight little cousin in 1st grade would've knocked the pies that he threw down yesterday out of the park!

  • Kylee@english Rose - 2009-11-23 11:49

    English Rose, how many english players do you have in your side? look at your top 3 yesterday...strauss, trott and south african born quality players, the fact that you have had four south african born players in your starting 11 must say somethin bout english cricket...and how you throw a guy like adil rashid into your team to fill the spot as a spinner is an absolute joke, he clearly doesn't have what it takes at national level. Our season has just started, you've had couple of months practice much avail really...nice 6 -1 thumping by the aussies!!!

  • dubjapie - 2009-11-23 12:04

    @English Rose And the English education system is in great shape, I see! Especially in terms of grammar and spelling!

  • Darren - 2009-11-23 12:13

    Van Der Merwe is a JOKE! He shouldn't even be playing provincial!

  • Unk - 2009-11-23 12:21

    Besides, Steyn this a school second team bowling line up! Morne Morkel needs to return and I am sure Makhaya will do better than these guys bowling currently!

  • Glen@WP - 2009-11-23 12:34

    Mack, how many trophies did any sporting code win during the segregated era? then freedom was upon us and suddenly we were Africa Cup of Nations champions, RWC Winners and excelled at the 96 Atlanta Olymic games. Segregation is/was never the answer and the economy can bare testimony to this claim. So I suggest you stick a carrot up your ring and enjoy your own isolation....your unused sample of Bud Spencer's urine!

  • Cricket fan - 2009-11-23 12:59

    @ MACK 11:08am. Pack your bags dude and join your brothers overseas... we don't need your type here.

  • MACK - 2009-11-23 13:21

    to my detractor - there was no rugby world cup ,until 1987 , and who cares about all the other softer sports for those light on thier feet.The 1995 and 2007 CUPS have bugger all to do with the current governtment , with inclusion ,and non segregration.We voted our childrens future our retirements,and safety and security away for "tests" and international sports.I bow to your superior knowledge about Zola'z urine ,you must have itimate knowledge of it. Thing is you most probably claimed her few a girl from your shore - wait ,you'll still get your Frakenstein !

  • zolani - 2009-11-23 13:23

    Yes we have not beat ENG in 6 games, the last 2 and then the previous was almost 2 years ago in England after we beat them in the test series, those 4 matches were just window dressing after the tests, pretty much the same as this season after ENG won the ashes, they also lost the concelation prize of the one days

  • Stephen A - 2009-11-23 13:33

    Kylie: the "English" team doesn't only contain South Africans: what about the Irish and Welsh in that team. Are there no true Englishmen playing these days? I think its time for Smith to hand over the captaincy - things are getting a bit stale and new attitudes are needed. We have the skills, may be it's the leadership that needs revamping.

  • Gs@Mack - 2009-11-23 13:38

    I am with you 100%. Well said.

  • Syd - 2009-11-23 13:44

    The sad is that our SELECTORS are the ones responsible for this with their continued "experience" selections. This is why this country has not won at major championships. I propose G Smith, R Rossouw, AB (w/k), JP, Kallis, Morkel, R v/d Merwe, J Botha, W Parnell, D Steyn & CJ De Villiers. These are not only the best young players we have but Smith, Kallis, AB, Morkel are there for the experience. Too much experience can be a problem sometimes. I am sick of this crap.

  • Auzzie - 2009-11-23 13:55

    I still do no why the Titans still have Roelf in the team...where is this so called special delivery he boasted about now the other day how the hell did he came throught system?smuggled through???...but do worry we will sort this out very soon believe me...

  • no surprise - 2009-11-23 13:55

    If one was to assume that the first 6 batsmen should contribute the winning total for a team, then one could compare England to RSA to see which top six is most likely to do that. England ODI average caps = 75 (most experienced Collingwood, 171 matches); England strike rate=76.84 (highest Pietersen 87.63, Collingwood 2nd, 76.96); England batting average=36.35 (highest Pietersen 46.04); England average 50s=12 (highest Collingwood, 23); England average100s= 2.67 (highest Pietersen 7, Collingwood 5, highest score Strauss, 152, Collingwood 2nd, 120 not out); RSA ODI average caps= 53 (highest Smith 147); RSA strike rate= 80.91 (highest Petersen 91.25, deVilliers 2nd, 85.62); RSA batting average=35.88(highest Amla 46.93, Smith 2nd, 40.86); RSA average 50s=12.12 (highest Smith 40, de Villiers 20); RSA average 100s=2.17 (highest Smith 8, de Villiers 2nd, 3, highest score de Villiers 146, Smith 2nd, 141). From the stats it becomes clear that England had on average the more experienced and better top six. They were more likely to produce a century than RSA. Collingwood and Pietersen being the stand out players. Collingwood delivered Pietersen didn't, injury hang-over? RSA stand out players Smith, Amla, Petersen and de Villiers. Amla and Petersen delivered. Most likely to score hundreds, Smith and de Villiers didn't deliver, but Amla and Petersen did. So statistically it comes as no surprise that England won, their top six was better. 250 with RSA's bowling attack and with England's grit and explosive ability at 3,4,5 it comes as no surprise that England won.

  • Twisted@english rose - 2009-11-23 14:00

    A very enlightened immigration policy has certainly helped the England cause. So my dear, resign from the BNP, and just try and enjoy the game.

  • MACK - 2009-11-23 14:12

    whoever told me to pack my bags ,"its exactly what I'm doing , neither the ANC ,or Springbok rugby are my masters - I can work ,I am law abiding and will rather pay my taxes to people that dont steal it ,and then waste it. When your kids or wife needs food ,or medicine - give then your old CASTLE LAGER jersey - who's the idiot know "plank ? "

  • @English Rose - 2009-11-23 14:18

    You slagging off our sport is a bit rich considering you poms have never really fared well consistently, besides maybe a year up until you won the rugby world cup BUT besides that NOTHING to rave about. Idiot!! Half or your cricket team is foreign anyway you chop. Your cricket team should be called "The England Invitational National Help Us Out Please Cause We Have Kuk Talent Of Our Own" Stick that in your pipe you smelly limey...

  • jeremy - 2009-11-23 14:18

    It rained solidly for three days prior to Sunday's match at Centurion. Whoever batted first was on a hiding to nothing - and it was to SA's credit that they got to 250. It wasn't a big enough total however, It was small enough that the England batsmen could bat conservatively and not give away wickets as SA had done in their quest to get a big total. My bet right now is that we win at least two of the remaining three matches!

  • SA Fan - 2009-11-23 14:23

    @English Rose - you piece of pommey trash, what are you doing on a South African website to begin with? Go join your mindless nation on! Do you think that we are any less proud of our disabled athletes achievements? Take your sarcastic trashy comments and get out of our country and take your "half-breed" cricketers with you as well, as clearly they have the same low class mentality as you. Oh and one more thing, do me a favour you tosser, ATTEMPT TO FINISH GRADE 6....AGAIN!

  • Paul - 2009-11-23 14:26

    @no surprise, so what you are saying that if Kallis played we would have won. Or if we bring in Gibbs we will win. Because either one of those two will boost our stats dramatically

  • hmmm - 2009-11-23 14:31

    why are people getting so bent out of shape by the composition of the English team? i am an RSA supporter, but let's look at the facts. Virtually all the cricket playing nations were introduced to cricket by the English. England colonised virtually all the cricket playing nations, meaning somewhere along the lines all the cricket playing nations will either have ancestors from England or relatives/friends/countrymen living in England. Secondly the world is a small place, people migrate all the time. For example most of the people in Jo'burg are not from Jo'burg or at least their parents or grandparents are not from Jo'burg, so what's the big deal? If RSA folk go represent England good for them, it's like Free State feeding Pretoria Bulls and the KZN Sharks in rugby. If they go to England and do well good for them, as long as RSA keeps on being in the top 3, which it is. Be happy for them like a community rejoices when one of their children goes overseas and makes it big, as long as they don't talk nonsense about where they came from and who they are...

  • musa - 2009-11-23 14:47

    People please ignore Mack & Co's comments they have psychological problems. Its ok Big Mack we understand you are stuck in the apartheid era I am sure the Boere Mag if they do exist would love to have you. By the way here in SA we take great offence when scum like you takes out their racial fustrations on our Sports. Just b'cos the apartheid government failed you & the ANC government ignores it doesn't mean nobody loves. The England teams need all the support they can get.Its Okay we understand.

  • no surprise - 2009-11-23 14:55

    @Paul. I think I hear where you are heading Paul. Virtually any of the test playing teams can beat each other at ODI's on any given day. The point I am making is that like ODI rankings or bets or odds or whatever, you use stats say who is more likely to win. It's like that in all sports. Bringing Kallis or Gibbs or whoever in doesn't guarantee victory it only means statistically they seem like they can make a contribution or statiscally over the last 10 or so games it doesn't look like it etc, etc. in other words trend analysis...But I think i hear what you are saying...

  • Chris - 2009-11-23 15:27

    Is there a new "Hansie" problem?

  • Kylee - 2009-11-23 15:44

    yeah thats true stephen, agree with you, i still like smith as captain but he's getting a bit complacent, need a few need ideas a new approach

  • Kylee - 2009-11-23 15:54

    @ hmmmmmmm don't get all technical now...i think your views are a joke. Playing for your country of birth is a privelge for anyone, i myself enjoyed every moment of it, thats wre your pride your passion for the game comes from

  • Harris - 2009-11-23 15:57

    @Mike@CapeT. I wish I could share your optimism regarding the future of SA sport! SA is losing quality players at an alarming rate and places like the UK are gaining players rapidly. Possibly it is time for us South Africans to start worrying about the future of sport in our country. SA has become a place to “come from” and the UK a “place to go to” and subsequently the UK will enjoy a net gain in quality players in the future.

  • hmmm - 2009-11-23 16:24

    @Kyleee. valid point about passion. am i wrong in saying passion is all about who think you are representing and who you think you are? sort of like Saracens under Brendan Venter beating RSA a week ago and rejoicing big time, but saying nice things about the boks, Hougaard vs Hougaard LOL?

  • Proteas Fan - 2009-11-23 16:32


  • hmmm - 2009-11-23 16:38

    @Kylee. I hear what you are saying Kylee. But another reason for passion is trying to show how good you are and what you are capable of, especially on an international level ie George Gregan, Zambian by birth and mother, Aussie by upbringing abd father. Kevin Pietersen did what he did to prove a point to RSA about how could he was. Trott probably a similar story. Basil D'Oliveira, Kepler Wessels, Tiaan Strauss, etc, etc. Like any sports person, it's hard being in any 'B' side with no international prospects when you think you are good enough for the RSA 'A' side or an international team. Either you quit the sport or look elsewhere. Only problem with KP is how he initially spoke and behaved when his international career began.