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 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Watch: AB and Danielle de Villiers sing "When you say nothing at all"

 As some of you may have heard,AB de Villiers and Karen Zoid teamed up to write maybe the cheesiest song of all time. The quality of AB's voice had us wondering how much of that was down to quality production, and how much was down to de Villiers being a great singer. So we found this little acoustic version of the Ronan Keating song, "When you say nothing at all", and well, you be the judge...




Friday, October 30, 2020

AB de Villiers releases new single with Karen Zoid

 AB de Villiers has released a single, with Karen Zoid and the Ndlovu Youth Choir. 

The music video features cameos from Virat Kohli, Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn, among others. Enjoy 



The all-rounder conundrum


On the surface, it appears that South Africa is basically all the way there with regards to creating and playing a good T20 team. They have a batting line-up with match-winners all the way down, and if this season's IPL is any indicator, they may have the best fast bowling pairing in the world in Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje. Throw in the first change talent of Lungi Ngidi along with (possibly) the ageless spinning talent of Imran Tahir, and, as they say in the South, baby you got a stew going. The one issue which the national team does have, however - and this was somewhat accentuated by the retirement of JP Duminy - is a reliable fifth bowler who doubles up as the all-rounder. It's not so much that we don't have options in the fifth bowler set up, we do, it's more that each of them has something that other would ideally have more of, and yet neither of them quite represent the full package in a way which would really be ideal. Now, it should be noted that South Africa isn't exactly unique in it's quality shortage when it comes to all-rounders in T20. The West Indies, having won two of the last three editions of the World T20, are probably the ideal side to model the attributes needed to win in the abbreviated format on, and even they have holes here and there. Andre Russell, great as he is in IPL, and he is a two-time league MVP in the most respected T20 competition in the world, he goes at nearly nine an over in international cricket, and basically averages a wicket every second game. Kieron Pollard is a legend of the game domestically, having won every tournament there is to win. But a look at his international T20 game reveals some chronic failures for an extended period of time historically. From 2014-2018, his strike rate never got above 112, and it was as low as 54 in 2018. In many respects being the bowling all-rounder in T20 a job and task designed for failure. As a rule, unless your team is god-awful, you will generally come in with only a few deliveries to make an impact. This means two things will almost always be true. One - your batting average will be suppressed by the fact that you generally have to play more risky shots much earlier in your innings. Two - the fact that you come in so late means you will not have the chance to "catch up" your strike rate. This second factor increases the importance of a players who are capable of clearing the boundary from ball dot. In Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, and Dwaine Pretorius, the Proteas have three guys who can in some or other fashion plug a need in the T20 department, without ever really plugging the entire hole.

 From the batting front, the first thing which will stand out is that none of the men have had a whole lot of international experience with bat in T20. They each hover at around 130 runs, which makes coming to any definitive conclusions something of an exercise in blind faith. Regardless, with the statistics on hand, there seems to be a rather noticeable chasm between Pretorius and the other two. His Strike Rate is 38 runs greater than the next best and his average is 2.5 times greater than Morris. Phehlukwayo seems to be the runt of the litter with the bat, having an average below ten and a strike rate that only just hovers at a run-a-ball. It is important to note though that Pretorius and Morris both have T20 half centuries, which works in their favour in the sense that it shows increased proficiency with the bat, but at the same time, it also means that in realistic terms, the difference between Phehlukwayo and these two has been the single innings. To date, Phehlukwayo has only had 10 knocks batting seven or higher, and only three batting at six. So there has been a definite lack of opportunity to show if he can indeed explode in the T20 format. That said though, considering the fact that in an ideal world he will only be coming in at the tail-end of an inning, we need to accept that maybe he is not the ideal man to come in and perform the coup de grace. Morris has not actually been much better, aside from a single, relatively meaningless half-century vs Pakistan, his career figures basically read the same as Phehlukwayo's. 78 runs at a strike rate of 106. That leaves Pretorius, who has the best strike rate, and the best average of the three, as well as by some distance the balls per six ratio in the race. This should be no surprise considering the fact that Pretorius is the best batsman in the discussion. As with the other two, Pretorius also suffers from a sample size issue, seeing as he has only batted in six T20 internationals. That said, though, the fact that his half-century came while batting at three suggests his selection could and probably would allow for increased flexibility with regards to the batting line-up 

T20 international batting Stats 


 

Chris Morris

Andile Phehlukwayo

Dwaine Pretorius

Matches

23

27

11

Batting        

Runs

133

92

135

Average

14.78

9.2

33.75

Strike rate

130.39

106.98

168.75

Sixes

5

3

6

Balls per six

20.4

28.7

13.33


 

On the bowling front, things are a little bit more even, with Phehlukwayo just about having the edge. He boasts the best strike rate and the best economy rate, no small feat considering he bowls quite often at the back-end of the game, when batsmen have decided someone needs to get smashed out of the ground. It's a dirty secret, but as a statistical exercise, does basically have the best T20 numbers of all South African pace bowlers, but SA has a pretty set in stone pace triumvirate, so I would be surprised to the point of shocked if he got in as a specialist bowler. Nevertheless, there is a quite substantial gap in quality between Pretorius and the other two. In a reversal of the batting situation, the fact that Phehlukwayo and Morris can bowl at the death (and Morris as an opening bowler), means they provide an increased flexibility to bowling proceedings which Pretorius just can't offer. 

T20 international bowling stats

 

Chris Morris

Andile Phehlukwayo

Dwaine Pretorius

Matches

23

27

11

Bowling       

wickets

34

35

7

Average

20.5

19.94

34.86

Economy rate

8.40

8.21

8.41

Strike rate

14.65

14.57

24.86

maidens

3

0

0


 

Another wrinkle to add to this discussion would be the fielding. Now, it is very difficult, if not downright impossible to fully measure fielding, as well as its impact, but it is probably safe to say with Pretorius' knee issues and lack of mobility they provide Phehlukwayo and Morris offer an increased amount of, you guessed it, flexibility in terms of fielding possibilities. T20 is not the format to hide players, and every runs counts that little bit more, due to the truncated nature of the game. 

The fact of the matter is, of the three combatants, only one has an IPL contract, and he once again went for a King's ransom. If Morris played as well as his IPL contract would suggest, this wouldn't even be a debate, but he doesn't so it is. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Why do Proteas dominate IPL but not international T20?


AB de Villiers once said he thought the IPL was bigger than the World Cup, an almost outrageous claim considering the fact that, gun to head, most non-Indian cricket fans would not be able to even guess who won the 2019 IPL, let alone the 2018 version. Now this could certainly be seen as an expected line of thinking from a man who continues to dominate in the IPL, yet has not played a T20 for his country since 2017, but we wondered if there was more to that? Now, it should be noted that doing better in one field than another does not indicate preference. I love money as much as I love gaming, but I play PlayStation every night, and I seem to never have money. That said though, we thought it was worth a look to see if AB plays T20 internationals with the same verve and chutzpah as he does in the IPL. 

AB de Villiers batting T20 batting records


 

IPL

T20

matches

166

78

Runs

4734

1672

average

40.46

26.12

Strike rate

152.51

135.17

100s

3

0


The first thing we see here, is that de Villiers' average and strike rate take a quantum leap in the IPL. His average increases by over 50%, which is a rather large amount in the grand scheme of things, while his strike rate increases by over 12%, which, when discussing strike rates, is a huge leap. There are of course, probably a lot of extenuating circumstances involved when comparing the two. The IPL only has four foreign players in a match day XI, which means that the vast majority of the playing team is Indian. If India had 56 international quality T20 players they would probably win every world cup by a significant margin, which they don't so it probably is safe to assume that the overall quality in the IPL, while by some distance the best in domestic cricket, probably falls a little short of the international game. Certainly, at varying stages, the Kochi Tuskers seemed to have a club bowling attack in lieu of a professional one. International T20s can often be held at the back-end of tours of tours with little or no prizes at stake. There would be some wisdom in thinking this lack of reward could be the reason for his reduced efficacy in T20 international cricket, but it spreads into his T20 World Cup play. His overall World T20 stats do not look that bad at first glance, but if you take a closer look, they seem to not be as impressive. 

AB de Villiers in ICC World T20 competition 


 

Overall record in T20 internationals

Record in World T20s

Record vs Netherlands, Afghanistan, Scotland

Record vs the Rest of the World

matches

78

30

4

26

Runs

1672

717

181

536

average

26.12

29.87

60.33

25.52

Strike rate

135.17

143.4

172.4

134.34

100s

0

0

0

0


Clearly his record against Test-quality opposition in World T20s was, give or take, the exact same as his overall record, which suggested that AB de Villiers, even in more high leverage situations, did not exactly play to his IPL level for the national team. 

 This represented a huge disparity and I was curious to see if similar leaps in performance existed for the other blockbuster Proteas. The two players who immediately leapt out to me were Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris. Rabada has obviously been the number one ODI and Test bowler in the world at varying points of his career, and has will very likely get the IPL purple cap (Most wickets) for the second season in a row. His T20 international stats have, however not quite followed this level of ability. Similarly, Chris Morris has seemingly had a rather average international career, and yet every second year seems to fetch North of R10 million. 

To start off with, we analysed Rabada's performances. The thing that will immediately leap off the screen will be the fact that he averages 1.8 wickets per game in IPL, while averaging 1.25 wickets per game for the Proteas. This represents a rather large departure statistically. While his IPL economy rate was only marginally better than when he represents the Proteas, one cannot ignore the fact that wicket have huge impact on the run rate the bowlers around Rabada also concede runs at. New batsmen generally take time to get their eyes in, so taking wickets is a priceless form of economic control. 

Kagiso Rabada T20 bowling records 


 

South Africa

IPL

Matches

24

30

Wickets

30

54

Economy rate

8.62

8.13

Average

25.4

17.5

Wickets per game

1.25

1.8



The stats were much the same in Morris' case, with the all-rounder recording a greater level of impact with both bat and ball in the IPL. In fact his record in the IPL basically reflects his pricing as maybe one of the top three or four most destructive lower-order all-rounders in the game, while his record in the green and gold reflects his status as a yo-yo man in the team in competition with three other men for the pace all-rounder slot.

Chris Morris T20 records 

 

South Africa

IPL

Matches

23

68

Wickets

34

80

Economy rate

8.4

7.78

Average

20.5

23.51

Wickets per game

1.47

1.17

Runs

133

548

Average

14.78

26.1

Strike rate

130

159.77

50s

1

2



So the next time you look at the Proteas dominating in the IPL and wonder why we can't do that in the international game, well the answer is quite simple: they aren't that good in green and gold. 

To the couch for Bouch

There is an old saying in Tennessee, I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says, we will tolerate you until we can replace ...