Posted by: nestaquin | January 31, 2009

South Africa are King!

bothaSouth Africa have deservedly become the kings of ODI cricket by walloping World Champions Australia 4-1 in their own backyard in the series that concluded this evening in Perth.

The mark of a champion team regardless of the sport played is the capacity for every player to significantly contribute while controlling the key moments of the contest and South Africa did just that all summer and no-one should be surprised when they add the Test World title to the trophy cabinet when Australia visit Southern Africa next month.

Much of the credit for South Africa’s recent ODI success should be given to stand-in skipper Johan Botha. Absurdly maligned after tasting defeat in the brace of exhibition T20 matches he quickly stamped his authority on the South African squad and led in classic Afrikaaner style; a cunning combination of calculated aggression, rational intelligence and expert planning.

There can be no doubt about it, Botha is a cricket captain of the highest order and to think that the talismanic and inspirational Graeme Smith has such an astute deputy to compliment Ashwell Prince spells trouble for any potential challengers of South African dominance in the coming years.

Another portent of future South African success is the relatively youth and depth of the squad.

In tonight’s match, South Africa fielded a team without first choice members Smith, Kallis, Boucher, Steyn and Ntini and instead included two debutant left-arm pacemen, Parnell and Tsotsobe, a youngster in his second match, van Jaarsveld, a second string ‘keeper and a rookie international captain yet they defeated a chagrined and motivated Australian team with the ease and perfection of a Ladysmith Black Mombaza isicathamiya harmony.

To further emphasise the point, if we disregard Gibbs and McKenzie, Albie Morkel was the oldest player in the South African team for tonight’s match!

I know little of the path cricketers tread to the international arena in South Africa but whatever structures they have in place are working very well. Obviously, the controversial quota system has proven a marvellous policy for the young nation as their Rugby team are World Champions, their cricketers are on the brink of their most successful era since readmission and to ice the cake their football team are to showcase the sporting ability of multicultural Africa globally when they host the FIFA World Cup next year.

While it is simple to envision a rosy future for the Proteas, the imagination dwells in shadow when forced to contemplate the fate of the Australian team in the coming months and years. Their consistently insipid displays are sapping the hope of even the most fantical and optimistic supporter and if recent matches are any indicator the year long slump is yet to hit rock bottom.

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Responses

  1. Well done SA. Botha has lead quite well, though I think Botha is a chucker and should be banned from bowling.

  2. Australia was always going to struggle post-legends, but its a bit mystifying how far they have fallen. It’s one thing to bring in a few new guys, but when the core of the team, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, don’t perform, and with a few injuries thrown in, it becomes a disaster. My money’s on NZ for the next series.

  3. Or maybe its not Botha that is so good but his opposing number is completely hopeless?

  4. It’s an interesting point about quotas. Whatever the Saffers are doing, they are doing it right as the system is producing lots of international class cricketers and a couple of absolute gems in Duminy and Steyn.

    It was a cliche to say that Aus tactics in the Golden Age was, “Give it to Warney and Pidge” and “It’s okay, we’ve still got Gilly to come,” but the current team is making it look a bit like that.

    I wrote some time back about the Aus itinerary prior to The Ashes and Nesta, you were confident that it was fine and a chance to harden the new generation. (I also thought the Dad’s Army were past it in 2006-7, so I’m no seer!) But isn’t the schedule killing the likes of Hussey and Ponting and Johnson who are being asked too often to dig the team out of trouble? Of course, when you’re winning, you never feel tired.

    Botha? I agree that he is a fine captain, but like Mumbai, I think he’s a chucker, either on the limit or beyond it.

  5. Botha’s action is indeed wobbly but I’ve given up on the whole issue of chucking. The rule is ambiguous at best and I’ve learned to clench my jaw and live with it.

    I still believe that the intense schedule leading up to and beyond The Ashes will be a positive long-term but in my defence England were at the time struggling to overcome the Kiwis minus their rebels and Australia were demolishing Sri Lanka.

    Also, I didn’t see Ishant or Duminy coming nor the injuries to Symonds, Lee, Watson, Jaques and Clark.

    We’ve all seen in Dave Warner that the talent base is there but unfortunately the selectors are unlikely to drop anyone proven until after The Ashes.

    In a perverse sort of way a loss to England might be the the best tonic for Australian cricket going forward because it seems little has been learned from the defeats by India and South Africa.

    So win or lose in July, Australian cricket should benefit one way or the other. One thing is clear and that is Australia are still plummeting and we won’t know if the bottom has been hit until after the tour of the UK. Unless of course, they miraculously win in Africa next month!

  6. Very good win to SA, they thoroughly deserved it. However I don’t think they are the best in the world at Test Cricket. I believe this title belongs to India. SA may clinch the title if they win the series against Aus in SA, but I still think India are number 1 in reality. As an Aussie I really hope we can bounce back from this low, however things aren’t looking to hopeful at the moment.

  7. Such is the nature of English pitches, conditions, crowds and atmosphere, that any cricketer should advance after a season in England – I suspect the hard tour SA had here in 2008 is the single biggest factor in their advance.

    But you’re right Nesta. If Aus win, it’ll be through old talents reconfirming their ability and / or new talent shining. If Aus lose, the stables will be cleaned and a new generation (and captain) will be set their brief.

    I’d wrap Mitch in cotton wool though.

  8. Not just because of patriotism do I disagree with Cricket Rules that India is a better test outfit that SA. SA drew with India in India last year, while the Indians beat everyone else at home. Until India come to SA and draw a test series, I suspect SA is currently the team to beat, and in consequence deserving of the title of best team around.

    I would love to see India in SA soon, as I think these are the two teams to watch in the the next two or three years. However, until that happens and until India draw with or beat SA in SA, then SA will remain the best test side in world cricket.

  9. The will remain the best but they need to repel Australia at home in March to consolidate.

  10. Nestaquin – Point taken. However, I suspect most people, including Australians, believe that this will happen, and with good reason. You have to say SA are going in favourites, and indeed I see you do.


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