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South Africa are not favourites this time


For the first time since I can remember, the Saffers are going into an international tournament and they are not the favourites. That doesn’t meant they are underdogs though. They are more like your flaky cousin who may or may not show up to your wedding; and even if they do, they will leave early with the hottest girl. If you have seen the women that keep the Proteas company, you will know that that analogy fits very well.


Before you call me delusional, let me outline my reasoning. There is no Wayne Parnell, Justin Ongtong, Robin Peterson and Yusuf Abdullah this time. Instead we have Loots Bosman, Rory Kleinveldt, Juan Theron and Charl Langeveldt, but let’s face it, it isn’t a huge difference. Of those who were left out, Parnell was the only one who would have made it back into this squad. Losing him to injury was a big blow, but between Charl and Theron, who made quite a case for himself at the IPL, they may have made up for it. All they have to do is pick up the wickets, since Dale Steyn refuses to do so. I find it quite puzzling that a fast bowler in such deadly form fails to get wickets. It also makes me miserable and that is why I am banking on Charl and Theron to make up for Dale. Dale does bowl a wonderful number of dot balls though or at least he did in the IPL. As long as his eyes don’t wander too wide and his hand doesn’t become too short all of a sudden, Dale Steyn should be a threat.

Loots Bosman is also a more than capable T20 opener. Thus, it looks like this side this stronger than last year’s right? Wrong! Look at this possible starting XI:

Jacques Kallis, Loots Bosman, Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Albie Morkel, Mark Boucher, Roelof Van der Merwe, Dale Steyn, Rory Kleinveldt, Juan Theron

Now here are the problems:

Smith: Coming off an injury
AB de Villiers: Terrible form
JP Duminy: May have found his form but still a little shaky. Also, very bad against spin.
Albie: Hits big and then gets run out for no rhyme or reason. That is not even a joke! Plus, meant to be a back up bowler but terrorizes his fellow bowlers more than the batsmen.
Mark Boucher: Can only keep wicket these days!
Roelof Van der Merwe: Hasn’t played since...I can’t remember. My memory doesn’t stretch that far.
Rory Kleinveldt: Newbie.

Basically, the pressure is on Kallis and Bosman to win every game. Even if they do manage that, Graeme Smith will have to win every toss and bat first because the Saffers don’t have wicket-taking bowlers. I know I just talked about Theron, but the pitches in the Caribbean are slow and assist spin. Whoever has ever heard of Saffers having spinners that won them matches? The Botha and Van der Merwe duo was a onetime thing. I have learnt the hard way, you should too.

They don’t even have suitable replacements if the starting XI doesn’t click. It was very charitable of them to pick Herschelle Gibbs, Johan Botha and Morne Morkel, but realistically neither of them is going to get a game. Johan Botha is beyond help, Morne is a pathetic T20 bowler and although once upon a time, people tuned in to watch Gibbs play, these days, they would rather focus on the spot on their television they have to clean. It is much more pleasant to think about that than watching Gibbs. It breaks my heart, because he is my favourite Saffa, but it is the truth and I have to deal with it.

So there you have it, the perfect South African line up for a miserable T20 campaign. They will make it to the Super Eights unless Afghanistan pulls off an upset, which they very well might. Either way, I don’t think this team is going very far and I’m pretty sure people aren’t betting on them either.

On second thought, maybe not being favourites for once, will work for them. You can’t choke when you are not under pressure to win right?

( Purna Hassan pretends to be a lot of things but is actually just a cricket lover and nothing else. She has been watching cricket ever since she can remember and is an avid supporter of Bangladesh and South Africa, which also means that she is frequently heart-broken and angry. She dislikes Stuart Broad immensely. Purna also blogs at cricketminded.blogspot.com )

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