“Krieket is onse game in die somer”

My parents live in a small village up the West Coast, Aurora.  It is on Google Maps, I promise. It is just off the N7, about 170 km from Cape Town.  The nearest place with a hospital and Woolworths, Vredenburg, is half an hour away.  There are 112 houses in Aurora (I know this for a fact because my daughter recently did a geography assignment on the town) and the permanent populations is just over 1,000. Lying in the foothills of the Cederberg mountains, Aurora is postcard pretty.  It is a meeting place for local farmers but otherwise the town is unremarkable.  In summer it can get hot, but the locals regard 40°C as mild. On such a “mild” Saturday afternoon my mom asked me and my dad to drop off a basket of freshly baked beskuit at tant Maria in Rietvlak.  Rietvlak is a remnant of apartheid, the corner … Continue reading

Where are the cricket fans?

The Mzansi Super League (MSL) has now reached the halfway stage. The crowd attendances have been poor and the tournament generally badly supported commercially. After the local derby at Newlands between the Cape Town Blitz and Paarl Rocks, Cricket South Africa (CSA) released a media statement about the good crowd of 5,200 people and the great atmosphere at the ground. In years gone by that would be an unacceptable attendance figure for the best supported or any venue in the country. It is unfair to compare eras but in the days of Benson & Hedges cricket, the Impalas, a composite team drawn from Boland, Border and Griqualand West, drew better attendances. They were considered the minnow team of the competition and played all their matches away from home. For the first edition of the MSL last year the crowd attendances were disappointing, with the biggest league match attendance being 7,000 … Continue reading

Is CSA serious about Test cricket?

The Proteas have now lost five Test matches in a row – two against Sri Lanka in February and three against India in October. For any self-respecting cricket nation, this would be a crisis.  More so if one considers the manner of these losses.  Sri Lanka beat the Proteas in South Africa, becoming the first Asian nation to win a Test series in South Africa.  The way in which the Proteas capitulated in the second Test match in Port Elizabeth was particularly embarrassing. The Proteas were always up against it in India.  But the magnitude of the series loss was alarming.  For example, the defeats in the second and third Test matches were the first time since 1936 that South Africa lost successive Tests by an innings. The Proteas’ next challenge is England.  In recent times, England has consistently been ranked above South Africa in the Test rankings.  The team … Continue reading

Springboks on top of the world for a third time

The Springboks won the 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC) in Japan and have now equalled the All Blacks record of having won the RWC three times. However, what makes the Springbok victory more special is that they have played in two less RWCs than the All Blacks, having missed the first two tournaments in 1987 and 1991. Two years ago nobody would have given the Springboks any chance of winning the 2019 RWC. The country united behind the Springboks like never before and testimony to this was the emotional support along the streets in all the centres for the bus top tour. It certainly showed that South Africans are desperate for success and international recognition. What is does for a nation that is living through a difficult period only time will tell. Once the euphoria of winning the RWC is over reality will once again set in for all South … Continue reading

Time, gentlemen

Last Sunday a T20I match between India and Bangladesh was nearly called off because of pollution.  Delhi was choking to death in the aftermath of all the Diwali fireworks.  Eventually the smog lifted and a full game was possible. In the history of cricket there have been a plethora of reasons for halting play – sometimes serious (like death, the outbreak of war, bomb threats and earthquakes) and at other times just plain extraordinary.  Remember the oil on the pitch at the Headingley Ashes Test match in 1975, or the disorientated man who this week two years ago drove his car onto the pitch in a Ranji Trophy match in New Delhi? But what are some of the more quirky reasons for holding up play? Cricket is a game dictated by the weather.  So it’s not surprising for play to be halted by snow, fog, gale force winds, excessive heat, … Continue reading

New leadership required by the Proteas?

After a poor 2019 Cricket World in England and a disastrous tour of India there is mounting pressure to replace Faf du Plessis as the Proteas captain. There is speculation that Temba Bavuma will be the Test captain, Aiden Markram the One Day International captain and Quinton de Kock the T20 captain. If this happens, it will fragment the leadership of the Proteas team resulting in a situation that the team will have three leaders. There will be no Graeme Smith or Hansie Cronje who takes control of the team with its performances and is the leadership face of South African cricket. It is important to have one captain for both the Test and ODI squads as basically the same personnel are used with the exception of the odd change here and there. Twenty over cricket is different and can have its own captain as this format has very different … Continue reading

Ever heard of New Field, Sedbergh?

(Prologue:  The doom and gloom that has enveloped South African cricket this week has prompted me to write something about the beauty of cricket.  Football is called “the beautiful game”; I believe it is a more fitting description of cricket.) When England’s leading Test wicket-taker, James Anderson, bowled only four overs in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston in August, I first read about a cricket ground in Sedbergh.  Anderson had apparently picked up a calf injury playing for Lancashire in a County Championship match in Sedbergh a month earlier and was always a doubtful starter for the first Test.  Anderson never recovered from the injury and didn’t play again in the series.  It was to have a significant impact on the outcome of the Ashes. So where is this cricket ground in Sedbergh that played such a huge part in the destiny of that little urn?  It turns out … Continue reading

Van Zyl seals new Gray Nicolls contract

Sussex’s leading batsman, Stiaan van Zyl, has renewed his sponsorship contract with the renowned English batmakers, Gray Nicolls, until the end of the 2021 county season. Van Zyl first signed up with Gray Nicolls when he started his county career with Sussex in 2017.  His 2018 season was unfortunately cut short because of injury, but Van Zyl was in prolific form in 2017 and again this season.  He made just under 1,000 first-class runs at an average of 49,00, including a particularly memorable innings of 173 at Lord’s against Middlesex. Van Zyl recently renewed his contract with Sussex, also until 2021.

South African cricket needs a new start

South African cricket needs a new start after a disastrous 2019 to date, having lost the two-Test series against Sri Lanka, the worst Cricket World Cup in history and now a loss to India without really competing. The signs of the demise of the Proteas have been evident for a while and now the national team has imploded. This will probably not be the end of the pain as they still need to play England and Australia later this summer. The solution to the problems is lifting the standard of domestic cricket as it is the feeder to the national team. Faf du Plessis in his post-match interview after the second Test in India alluded to the fact that the domestic system is not producing the quality and depth that is required to keep the Proteas competitive internationally. The implementation of the new provincial system from the 2020/21 season provides … Continue reading

Of points and pitches

The new World Test Championship (WTC) is now well under way.  The current Test match between South Africa in Pune (the second in a series of three) is already the eleventh in the first cycle of the WTC.  The WTC is one of the best things to have happened in Test cricket in a long time.  It gives Test cricket a context and meaning. Unfortunately the first ten matches of the WTC have also brought to light a glaring shortcoming – the points system. In the first cycle, each team will play six series.  Each series counts 120 points, with the points distributed equally over the number of matches in a series.  The points allocation is therefore as follows: 2 matches in series – Win/Tie/Draw – 60/30/20 3 matches in series – Win/Tie/Draw – 40/20/13 4 matches in series – Win/Tie/Draw – 30/15/10 5 matches in series – Win/Tie/Draw – … Continue reading