South African cricket under siege

The Proteas find themselves in a very difficult period since the end of last season when they beat Pakistan in all three formats. Even then there were signs that there were problems ahead. Since then they exited the 2019 Cricket World Cup without really competing and have lost seven of the last eight Test matches that they have played. This includes losing to Sri Lanka, who was the first sub-continent team to win a series in South Africa. The margins of these defeats are concerning; three have been by an innings and most of the others by big margins. They managed to break the losing streak against England at SuperSport Park in December, but have since lost the last two Tests by large margins. One can’t help but feel that England only lost the first Test because of sickness in the team and acclimatising to the conditions in South Africa… Continue reading

Cricket overload!

In 2020 there are now officially four formats of white-ball cricket: 50 overs, 20 overs, 10 overs and 100 balls. 50-over (or List A) cricket stands on its own; in many ways closer to first-class than T20 cricket.  Because of pressure from television stations for made-for-TV cricket, the proliferation of formats is happening around short-format cricket.  (For the sake of convenience I’ll use “short-format” as a collective noun for 20 overs, 10 overs and 100 balls.) Any new short-format league firstly has to be approved by its home board and then by the International Cricket Council (ICC).  For the period January 2019 to March 2020, the ICC received from its 92 Associate Members no fewer than 25 applications for new short-format tournaments!  There are also the established short-format leagues hosted annually by the 12 Full Members, such as the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Australian Big Bash League (BBL), the… Continue reading

Mzansi Super League has a place in South African cricket

The second edition of the Mzansi Super League (MSL) has just been completed and from a cricketing point of view it was a success. The quality of event and cricket was endorsed by the Australians Ben Dunk and Dan Christian who are well travelled T20 cricketers. Only the Jozi Stars disappointed and never won a match under new coach Donovan Miller. For the rest, all five could still qualify for the playoffs in the last two rounds. The MSL provided very good opportunities and experience for South African cricketers. The problem remains the financial sustainability of the MSL as the projected loss will once again run into millions of rands. The major problem is that the SABC was again awarded the rights to broadcast the tournament. It is common knowledge that the SABC does not have the funds, like the pay channel SuperSport, to secure the rights at the market… Continue reading

“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