Thursday, December 24, 2020

Can Captain Quinny cope

 


There has only been one man in major international cricket history to lead a side in all formats while keeping wicket for them for any serious length of time: Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But while Dhoni had a heavy load, one which he carried like a prized weightlifter, Quinton de Kock may have an even heavier cross to bear. de Kock is the best player on South Africa's national team. It honestly doesn't matter which format we are talking about, he reigns supreme in all formats. This gift is undoubtedly at least part of the reason he was selected as the captain of the national team in all three formats. But will it turn out to be a curse?

To ask him to carry the load with the bat, as the lynchpin of a fragile batting line-up. Then in the field as both wicket-keeper and captain. Finally in the media, as the face of the team may be a bridge too far for a man whose last trip as the captain of a national team saw him clash with his under-19 coach, Ray Jennings, and eventually lose his job.

The move to have your best player be your captain is in some ways a very recent one. South Africa for example, had never done it. Australia was the only country that seemed to consistently find success in leaving all leadership queries at the feet of their best player. Donald BradmanAllan BorderSteve WaughRicky PontingMichael Clarke, and most recently, Steve Smith represent the best players in the teams they presided over. By contrast, considering their careers coincided with Jacques Kallis', Hansie Cronje, Shaun Pollock, and Graeme Smith were never in danger of being seen as the best players in the South African national team. A quick look at the modern game reveals an overwhelming majority of captains worldwide doubling up as the most valuable players in the team. This switch has likely been a result of two separate but equally crucial developments in the game: 

1 - The more holistic view nations have regarding on-field decisions, with all teams now having selectors, coaches, and even backroom staff all being able to chip in with their input to team selections, as well as team tactics. Gone are the days of Clive Lloyd finding the best bowlers in the Caribbean Isles on his own. Cricket boards have someone to do that now.
2 - The idea that carrying a captain who may not be one of the best XI players in your country is an inefficient team selection. 

Ironically, Australia seems to have zigged when the rest of the world zagged. This is ironic because Australia was the one who zagged when the cricket world zigged. There is an argument to be made that Tim Paine isn't even the best wicket-keeper in Australia, let alone their best player. But T-Paine only plays one format, one where leadership aside, his contributions to overall success is at best replacement-value. South Africa is going to need more than just replacement-value from de Kock. They are going to need star-level performance. It remains to be seen whether the boy from King Edward's shoulders will be strong enough to carry load Dhoni's did. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Proteas Post-Lockdown Preview



Cricket is finally back in South Africa! It will be strange to watch our home summer with no crowds, especially during the New Year’s test, but it’s better than nothing (or in my case, watching IPL commentators talk about some car for the hundredth time). The summer begins with England’s limited overs tour. We lost the T20I series and drew the ODI series when England toured earlier this year. The matches, however, were great to watch, with Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock’s pleasing opening partnerships, and Lungi Ngidi displaying his death bowling skills.

Our fast bowlers have been unlucky with injuries in the recent past, but we should see all three of Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada start together at some point this summer, hopefully before the Test series against Sri Lanka. Rabada and Nortje have been excellent with Delhi Capitals in the IPL, while Ngidi has struggled at CSK but remains an amazing One-Day prospect with his death bowling abilities. Beuran Hendricks has looked good in some innings and brings much-needed variety to the pace battery. Junior Dala might not get as many chances as he’d like, but it’s a long summer and he has shown some potential in is international career so far. Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius will be competing for one spot, but some squad rotation should see both get a chance in this series. Glenton Stuurman has received his first call-up but will have to wait since Lutho Sipamla is also part of this large squad.

It is still strange to see de Kock leading the side, but he might just be the right person to lead the team as rebuild. His opening partnership with Bavuma has looked good so far, with both batsmen scoring briskly and running well between the wickets. Janneman Malan is off to a good start in his ODI career. He is likely to open with de Kock, with Bavuma fitting in at 3. Heinrich Klaasen was magnificent against Australia and will find a place in the lower middle order. Jon-Jon Smuts was frustrating all summer but finally got going towards the end, pulling off a good win over Australia. Kyle Verreynne should complete what looks like our most solid middle order in years. It was disappointing to see David Miller barely play in the IPL, but he will be raring to go. We obviously rate him. Rassie van der Dussen has been outstanding so far, averaging a casual 70 in ODIs. Pite van Biljon has also retained his place in the squad. Reeza Hendricks is back (yay) but might not make it to the XI right away, considering he is statistically the worst batsman in the side.

Imran Tahir’s ODI retirement and notable absence from the T20 squad means that the frontline spinner’s position is still up for grabs. All of Tabraiz Shamsi, Keshav Maharaj, Bjorn Foruin and George Linde have been named in both squads. Shamsi is probably the front-runner but is underwhelming on the field and with the bat. George Linde contributes more with the bat and was superb for the Cobras this week. He has played one test so far and is a good shout across all formats. He will be competing with Bjorn Fortuin, another left arm orthodox all-rounder and the youngest of the lot. Linde is better with the bat, Fortuin is more economical. Finally, Keshav Maharaj has been in and out of the limited overs squads but looks unlikely to take Fortuin’s place in the XI. Jon-Jon Smuts can bowl a full quota of overs but is the 4th left arm orthodox option in the squad!

On the other hand, while it's only Victor Mpitsang's first series since taking over as convener as selectors, leaving out Sisanda Magala and Aiden Markram and retaining Dala and Smuts is bizarre.

England have played more cricket recently, and other than the Proteas involved in the IPL, our only preparation so far has been the first round of the franchise series and that 3TC atrocity earlier this year. There’s a big mess at CSA to go with that, but we try to remain optimistic.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Watch: Young Allan Donald bowls against Australia(1986/87)

From the vault of Robelinda, we found one of the rarest videos known to cricket kind. A young Allan Donald facing the Rebel Australian side in an unofficial Test. Enjoy. 

 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Watch: South Africa edge England in a last ball thriller.

With the South Africa vs England series starting later this month, we thought it appropriate to take a walk down memory lane through some of the closest and most entertaining T20s between the two sides. In this 2017 clash at Taunton, AB de Villiers was the star as South Africa edged England in a thriller which came down to the final ball.




 

Watch: Hansie Cronje slaps Shane Warne all around the Wanderers

As one of the greatest cricketers in history, Shane Warne has generally had the upper hand when it came to most battles, but on this fateful day at the Wanderers, it didn't matter what he bowled, he had to fetch it in Row Z. 


 

Monday, November 2, 2020

Why David Miller is the jewel in the T20 crown or why David Miller is still one of the best batsman in our team

David Miller has only played a single solitary match in the IPL, and it was not a particularly good, or lengthy sojourn out to the middle. A duck early in the competition has been the extent of his contributions for the Rajasthan Royals this year. Some would say this is evidence of a long-standing IPL decline. On paper, its hard to argue against that being the case. He only has one year averaging over 30 in the last five seasons, compared to four straight years in his first four years in the competition. Similarly, his strike rate has not climbed above 130 once in the last five editions, compared to four straight seasons over 130 in the beginning. It is fair to say that the David Miller star, which was once on of the brightest in the IPL galaxy (he was a player who regularly fetched over a million dollars) has waned and may possibly be facing an outright dwarfing as he is in maybe the worst place to be in all of sports - a benched player on a bad team. Certainly, if my interest was in the IPL or selection headaches in the IPL, I would likely advocate that David Miller should not be anywhere near my mythical favourite IPL team. Every major statistical category seems have seen a notable decline in the second half of his IPL career making it difficult if not almost impossible to justify keeping him in the set up. 

MILLER TIME NEARS CLOSING TIME? THE FALL OF DAVID MILLER IN THE IPL IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS 


2012-2015

2016-2020

Matches

47

33

Runs

1319

531

Average

38.79

25.28

Strike rate

147.5

121

50+

8

1

Sixes

70

17

Balls per six

12.77

25.82

 

And this seems to be the problem. Too many people have married his IPL struggles with his Protea career and decided he needs to be dropped for his IPL form. Now, I understand that players do need to prove form, and as such, the IPL remains a huge part of that, but Miller's IPL struggles are not his Protea struggles and the two should, to sensible degree, still be separated.

For one, while you could argue Miller has not had a single good year in the last five IPL seasons, his Protea work has been, for the most part, outstanding. His average has been better than 30 four times in the last six years, and his strike rate has exceeded 130 the same amount. Last year, he averaged 39, had a strike rate of 160, won a man of the series, and captained a team for the first time. Hardly the actions or performance of a man in an irreversible decline. Indeed, a contrast in his IPL and Protea form over the last five years seems to indicate that, in Proteas colours at least, Miller has not lost a step. 

IN CONTRAST: DAVID MILLER'S PERFORMANCES IN IPL AND PROTEA COLOURS 2016-2020

 

Protea career 2016-2020

IPL editions 2016-2020

Matches

38

33

Runs

756

531

Average

30.24

25.28

Strike rate

150.29

121

50+

3

1

Sixes

39

17

Balls per six

12.89

25.82

 That strike rate is the best in Protea colours of all players with over 250 runs in that period, and the average is only just below the likes of Quinton de Kock. It's easy to combine separate events and come to incorrect conclusions, we do it all the time. But the reality is Miller is going to have to be an important part of the dialogue if South Africa's T20 side is to move forward. It's always Miller time in Protealand