Not ‘many positives’ from Proteas or Super 15

Unlike many losing captains and coaches, I did not take ‘many positives’ from the Proteas losing, or from the fact that not a single South African rugby team won in the Super 15 this past weekend.
The Proteas lost, not because they choked, but because their reasoning and tactics are downright stupid. An abiding memory was the sight of Hashim Amla simply watching a wide go by, rather than hooking it for six. And that put pressure on A.B. who got caught on the boundary attempting to hook a good length ball for six. If there are two golden rules in T20, it is that you may not leave hittable balls and you may not bowl wides. We did both.
Then, having put a competitive total on the board, we open the bowling during the batting power play with Duminy and Albie Morkel and, quite predictably, concede 24 runs in the first two overs. Mind boggling! As Virat Kholi said that start enabled him to pace his innings. When he saw that Dale Steyn was going to bowl at the death he and his partner made sure they won the game in the nineteenth over. In other words he was thinking on his feet and reacting to the situation. The Proteas do not. Captain Faf explained that A.B., our best T20 batsman, came in at number four rather than number three because he scores more when he comes in after ten overs. But that statistic is surely a reflection of the fact that if your top three batsmen have batted for ten overs they will, more often than not, have laid a good foundation. So, as Kholi also pointed out, it is runs on the scoreboard rather than the number of overs that is critical.
Clearly, we need a new coach, captain , and a team who are focussed solely on the tactics necessary in the helter-skelter T20 format. And that, almost by definition, excludes those better suited to the 50 over game let alone test matches. But ‘when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?’.
The Super 15 performance by the Bulls, Cheetahs, Lions and Stormers were eminently forgettable except for the brilliance of Cheetahs scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius and Stormers centre Juan de Jong, by far the best centre in our country. However both are too small for coaches such as Heyneke Meyer and Jake White. Remember Brent Russell and, if you are older, Mannetjies Roux who despite his apt name scored many exciting tries for the Boks in the 1960s? Pretorius is a nippy scrumhalf who breaks and score tries, rather than kicks for territory, while De Jong’s stepping, passing and low tackling are a joy to watch. Both would break the tediousness of current Boks rugby.
On a positive note, the Sharks top the log with a game in hand, and should stretch their lead to six points by beating the Lions this weekend. And on the soccer front the Team of Choice, on the strength of a cracker of a goal by Orlando Smeekes, secured the much needed three points against relegation- bound Golden Arrows. It was pleasing to see Bandile Shandu, nineteen years old and only months out of Maritzburg College, getting some game time. The best soccer clubs in the world buy global, but also rely on nurturing local talent.

Rob Haswell

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