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South Africa: Between then and now and the whipping post.

by Gaurav Sethi

by Naked Cricket

Consider the ‘Bored of Cricket’ polls to your right. Now, reconsider it.

Where is South Africa? Apart from sitting on top of Oz that is.

Notice, there is no SAF in the bored stakes.

How did SAF evolve from full blooded boredom to one very engaging team?

Their most exciting player, Gibbs, gone – could that be it? And their least exciting player, McKenzie, cometh on top – can it be so?

For ages, South Africa have looked like a very good team on paper – allrounders all-over, potential match winners till the 12th man, and the general bonhomie that comes knowing the next guy will do the job.

Only the job never got done. Then came Graeme Smith; then went Lance Klusener.

Don’t mess with me couldn’t have been written any bigger even if Smith sired an aircraft to do the great gig in the sky.

Knocking Klusener off, match winner, all-rounder, almost there man, choker, Donald’s run-out partner in the World Cup knockout, and primarily, BAD INFLUENCE.

A guy who can do that will not stop at much. Selection was flawed, Smith said so.

Meanwhile Smith scored, and scored big. Fifty plus average, and before you know it, he’s not a rookie player anymore. Yet he spoke like one. And that last trip down under detained the little boy into the dark corner. Hush puppy, hush!

That was then. What happened between then and now?

Here are some hints.

Smith made his debut in 2001-02.

Six of his mates made theirs after him.

295 HM Amla India v South Africa at Kolkata, 2004/05

296 AB de Villiers South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, 2004/05

297 DW Steyn South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, 2004/05

300 M Morkel South Africa v India at Durban, 2006/07

301 PL Harris South Africa v India at Cape Town, 2006/07

302 JP Duminy Australia v South Africa at Perth, 2008/09

Harris (2006-7) and Duminy just the other day.

They are his boys, his team.

Blokes like Boucher and Ntini are hardcore team players (both 1997-98 debuts) they’ll even play for a statue.

Kallis (1995-96) was miffed after being sidelined for the T20 WC, but in that SAF dressing room nobody is beyond a dressing down, even if you are Kallis.

Mckenzie (2000) an oddball, eccentric, what can you say about him?

And Prince (2001) in the same series as Smith vs. Australia. Another go-to guy for Smith, along with Mckenzie, the workers, the ants of the team.

That’s twelve players.

No Gibbs, No Klusener, No Pollock, no baggage. Smith in command.

And for Australia, no Warne, no McGrath, no Gilchrist, no Langer, no Hayden, no Symonds, no Lee. Looks like that way, doesn’t it?

Three years back, Aussie whipped SAF by 184 runs at Melbourne, this very day.

And now SAF lashes 183 runs in the blink of an eye.

‘Sometimes it feels like I’m tied to the whipping post.’

Thus spoke Ricky Ponting.


Q said...

Brilliant NC.. absolutely brilliant. Holds true I think.. nothing like having yes men around u who listen to u and respect u no questions asked.

Gaurav Sethi said...

cheers Q. say yes to the yes men bit. tho kallis, a maybe man, was tackled.

guys like amla, ab have some very good +ve energy - rubbed off on to the team, like viru's has off india.

sraghuna said...

Viru's virus of virtuosity! Amla's abstinence leading to absolution! Pricky's predilection for the preposterous!
Youg teams composed of a majority of debutants led from the front by seasoned warriors shall rule the roost ... let there be no doubt on that front!