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The Perfect Ending

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With the conclusion of the World Cup, I am almost certain that the Super 8’s was where it should have ended for the Saffers. I was certain before the start of the tournament as well but the fan in me hoped that I was wrong and that my team was going to turn things around.

But as I watched the semis, I realized it would have been seriously unfair had South Africa made it. Australia and England were the strongest teams in the whole tournament and thoroughly deserved to be the last two standing. Sri Lanka was possibly the next best, but not good enough. Pakistan was the only one that got lucky and it showed. You can peak at any time you want, but unless you have genuine form, self-doubt will always creep in at some point. Not that Saeed Ajmal was out of form.  Michael Hussey was just better that day.

Watching Michael Hussey single-handedly win the game for Aussies reminded me of the 1999 World Cup, when one Lance Klusener had done the same for the Saffers (well almost!). That’s when I realized that the Saffers currently don’t have a team equation that works in Limited Overs Internationals.

I know it sounds very, very strange, but think about it. To begin with, Saffers don’t have an opener. They haven’t had one since Gary Kirsten retired and Herschelle Gibbs forgot how to bat. Jacques Kallis played the role to perfection last year but I think it’s a fundamental problem that the Saffers try to make Jakes fill in every missing link in the team. When the captain is injured, he has to lead; when the bowlers are having a bad day, he has to get wickets; when the other batsmen are collapsing, he has to stay and when they can’t be bothered to find another opener, he has to open. Loots Bosman, in my opinion was removed too early from the team. The only reason his failure stuck out is because at the other end, the lovely Graeme was also out of form; and Graeme is the captain. He can’t be dropped!

Then let’s move onto the middle order. After Kallis, everybody is either a stubborn-pig head, out of form or bowlers. AB de Villiers, is a man of immense talent and I have nothing but respect for him. I was sure that he was going to be the leader of the middle order for Saffers when he first came to the scene. But it seems AB fails to realize that you can be flashy, brash and cool but you still have to be responsible. This has been AB’s problem even when he was in form. Unnecessary singles that result on run outs, stupid flashy shots when it was not required or just complete showing off-these are the three things that AB has fallen to again and again. It was no different this time and if it doesn’t change anytime soon, AB will forever be remembered as that guy who couldn’t bring it to the table when it mattered.

After AB we have JP, who is having the customary bad year. Instincts tell me that he will survive this but he will have to be dropped for that to happen. He needs to sort his things out, let him do it when he is not trying to win a match for his country.

Once JP goes, it might be time for Albie to come in, or it might not. One of Albie’s biggest problems methinks is that the Saffers haven’t figured out how to use Albie in their batting line-up according to the situation at hand. Mark Boucher has been the South African finisher for the longest time, except Boucher can’t bat in limited overs anymore, especially in T20. I am honestly of the opinion that keeping in all three formats and the IPL is taking a toll on him. South Africa have some very capable keepers in their domestic T20 leagues and its time those guys came in for Bouch. He will be retiring soon anyway.

But let’s get back to Albie. So sometimes the mess that the Saffers have created for themselves is just too big for him to clear and sometimes he just isn’t Lance Klusener. Say what you may, Klusener had the ability to drag his team out of any situation, Albie just hasn’t reached that point. Even if he does, it is very unfair for the rest of the team to keep on asking this of him when they themselves have given up their wickets or not put in enough effort. Of course Albie will try, it is his duty to try, but the same goes for the others right?

The bowlers come in next and so by the time Albie goes, it’s pretty much over for the Saffers. All this makes for a very poor run chase. They haven’t been able to chase anything in crucial matches for years now, but it has been particularly pathetic in the last year.  It’s time the team replace a few players here and there (not a complete restructuring of course, that will mess the team up even more) and make sure certain players know what their responsibilities are. Until that happens, the Super 8’s is where it will end.

(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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