|Graeme Smith - not again|
I wonder if your generation of cricketers are as sick of hearing it as those in the media, those in every bar in South Africa and every other international cricketer are sick of saying it? Its not our fault Graeme. We didn't get frightened and declare too late. We didn't drop four catches. We didn't spit the dummy over an umpires decision. We didn't give the worst off spinner since David Boon 13 overs in an 81 over innings when the side was pushing for victory.
You and your team did that.
Choked again. Thank God for Greg Norman or your team would be the worst chokers in sport.
Note to the rest of us:
It was a match which South Africa should have swallowed whole but didn't for the following reasons:
- Yesterday afternoon, they failed to bowl New Zealand out before the follow on. Failed by one run in an innings where Chris Martin got 2 notout - the same Chris Martin who has been out for a duck in a third of his 98 Test innings. The world record holder for ducks in fact. He and Mark Gillespie added 12 for what proved to be the last wicket. Then before bedtime, Smith and Alviro Petersen touched up the Kiwis at five an over and led by as many as New Zealand made in the first innings and that was their highest score of the series;
- They batted on this morning when it wasn't needed but when Smith was caught with a Doug Bracewell blinder of Dan Vettori, they led by 305 with 88 overs left in the day and that's when they should have declared. Why then? If they had, they would have had eight overs with a new ball at the end of the day. Smith was over cautious and it cost them a victory.
- New Zealand's hero, Kane Williamson was dropped three times and twice getting to twenty and was also the recipient of a controversial decision by the third umpire. Petersen dived to his left at gully and it was a fifty, fifty call as to whether fingers or grass experienced first contact but as we have seen in Australia, the depth of field of even the best of cameras will foreshorten distances and perhaps the bowler, Dale Steyn was unlucky. Smith carried on like a pork chop, which didn't help the team demeanour or confidence;
- JP Duminy was bowled well past his useby date, whilst four beefy fats bowlers were left wondering why. He bowled only two less overs than a fully fit, aggressive and dangerous Dale Steyn. The answer lies directly with the ICC rules on over rates. Smith was suspended for four ODI's because of slow over rates in 2007 and was warned in the recent series against Australia. He was way behind by lunch and used Duminy to speed things up.
|Morne Morkel was the perfect storm|
In amongst all of this abysmal cricket from the men who would be kings, were two outstanding performances and several strong supporting ones. I choose to mention Morne Morkel first, because his was the more perfect performance. After he had bowled Dean Brownlie with a perfect yorker after an hour long, resolute innings which added 51 with Williamson, he bowled a better one next ball for the same result with Dan Vettori. Vettori had as much idea what hit him as a pulped kangaroo on the front of a Mack truck. Morkel's figures read 5-8 of eleven overs. A combination of back spasms and odd captaincy took him from the bowling crease until he returned to break the 80 run stand between Kruger van Wyk and Williamson. He was quick, very quick. The way he worked over Brownlie was classical fast bowler stuff, pushing him constantly onto the back foot and then the perfect yorker. Only Vernon Philander came close to his line but even he wasted too much outside the off stump.
van Wyk is a busy little bloke at the crease and he also suffered the worst of three blows which Kiwis took on the day. Morkel ducked on back at him, lined him up and knocked him down with a resounding crack on his protector and upper thigh. He'll be singing soprano in the church choir tonight. Earlier, Williamson had a similar blow which cracked his protector to the extent it had to be replaced. In my day, batsmen were very suspicious about changing protectors but that was mainly because we only had one and the replacement had to come the communal kit.
|Kane Williamson 102x|
Kane Williamson played a wonderful hand, the first century against South Africa at the Basin Reserve for 80 years. Without doubt he had a large dose of luck in the first half of the innings but he also faced the hardest day of cricket in his life. Not even the back yard track, a wet tennis ball and ugly neighbours could match the venom of constant short stuff at 140km/h plus Williamson copped today. It was a innings that may transform this talented 21 year old with only one Test hundred before today and an average of 30 because it was the innings of man not a boy. Even when Steyn was cursing and spitting near the end, his focus was fixed the task and nothing would divert him.
Along with van Wyk, Brownlie and Bracewell played important innings for New Zealand. Its a pity they couldn't have been played in a win rather than avoid a loss. Its also a pity that New Zealand cricket fans will be deliriously happy tonight because they limited the loss in the series to 0-1. They fact they were out gunned and out played until South Africa pulled their ties in too tight on the last day of the series might escape them. Instead of patting each other on the back, they should be kicking each other up the backside. I just get the feeling that the likes of Bracewell, Brownlie and Williamson are the sort that will. I hope so. Australia could do with having competition from across the Tasman again.
There was still 188 between them at the end with Graeme Smith needing to find three wickets, perhaps only two real ones if consider the likelihood of Martin striking twice. Despite the robust rhetoric of the Kiwi commentators, Ross Taylor wouldn't have batted. It didn't matter. It was never runs that needed to be calculated, just overs.
Can you sing whilst you choke? If so Biff, try that Anthony Newly classic "... what kind of fool am I ..."