South Africa’s cricket team need just a draw in the second Test at Kolkata’s legendary Eden Gardens to win the series and claim the No.1 ranking in world cricket.
They have played there twice in the past, with the honours shared. SA won by a mammoth 329 runs in 1996 but lost by eight wickets in 2004.
It’s hard to imagine that India will be as easy to roll over in this incredible stadium, but the fact is that they have a patchy record there. They have eight wins, eight losses and 27 draws.
Then again, the lost time they lost a Test there was back in 1999, to Pakistan.
A draw is all the Proteas need … mind you, that’s what England needed going into the final Wanderers Test last month. And we know what happened there.
Dale Steyn is one Test away from possibly joining Dennis Lillee and Waqar Younis as the world’s fastest fast bowlers to claim 200 Test wickets.
His haul of 10 against India in Nagpur took his career tally to 195 scalps from just 37 Tests. By comparison, after 37 matches, Allan Donald had 169 wickets, Shaun Pollock 160 and Makhaya Ntini 123.
The quickest bowler on the planet to reach the 200 mark was a New Zealand-born Aussie called Clarrie Grimmett, who claimed his milestone against South Africa in Johannesburg way back in 1936 – in his 36th Test match.
But Grimmett was nowhere near the quickest bowler on the planet when it came to pace, practising the art of the legbreak googly. Clearly one heck of a bowler, Grimmett played only 37 Tests in all and ended with 216 wickets.
Lillee and Younis both achieved their 200th wickets in their 38th games. Behind them are Ian Botham and Stuart MacGill (remember the Aussie spinner who played second fiddle to Shane Warne?) on 41 matches.
Then Warne, Donald and Malcolm Marshall weigh in with 42 Tests.
Stastically speaking, Steyn will surpass Botham and MacGill. He has three matches to claim five wickets, and in his career to date, he has never taken fewer than eight wickets in a three-match spell – and those happened to be his first three Tests for South Africa against England in the summer of 2004/05.
And his odds of taking five in the second Test against India in Kolkata from Sunday to Thursday? In his last 10 matches he has taken fewer than five wickets on four occasions. Statistically, that means he has a 60% chance of joining Lillee and Younis (see the full list).
By the way, of South Africa’s 200-plus quick bowlers of the post-isolation era, Steyn is the least economical. Pollock leads that with a cost of 2.39 runs an over, followed by Jacques Kallis (2.81), Donald (2.83), Ntini (3.23) and then Steyn (3.54).
But who really cares when Steyn is taking wickets?
Jacques Kallis is South Africa’s most prolific batsman of the post-isolation era, with 10,813 career runs and an average of 55.16.
But the one milestone he has never reached is that elusive double century.
On 10 occasions he has scored 150 or better – his highest was an unbeaten 189 against Zimbabwe – but Mr Solid has simply been unable to convert any of those into 200.
So why has Kallis failed in this endeavour?
It’s not because he’s a poor batsman, nor is it because his scoring rate slows too much the higher his score gets (his 186 against New Zealand in 2007 came from 262 balls, with his last 86 runs coming off an impressive 96 deliveries).
Whatever the reason, it’s a feat he should have achieved.
Kallis ranks seventh in terms of most runs scored in a career, with Tendulkar topping the list with more than 13,000 runs. Then comes Brian Lara (11,953), Ricky Ponting (11,859) and Rahul Dravid (11,395). Of the top 10 career run-scorers, Kallis is the only one not to have reached 200 in an innings.
In fact, if you stretch the list to 20, the number of non-200s increases to three, with the addition of former England wicket-keeper Alec Stewart ( 8,463 runs and a top score of 190) and Australian bad boy Mark Waugh (8,029 and 153 not out).
When it comes to ability, Kallis ranks higher than both Stewart (career average of 39.54) and Waugh (41.81).
The statistics show that Kallis should be in the 200 club, and hopefully that means that he will get there one day.
Here’s a list of his top 10 Test knocks (in chronological order):
v New Zealand, Nov 2000 – 160 from 289 balls
v Zimbabwe, Sep 2001 – 157* from 272 balls
v Zimbabwe, Sep 2001 – 189* from 443 balls
v West Indies, Dec 2003 – 158 from 297 balls
v West Indies, Dec 2003 – 177 from 344 balls
v New Zealand, March 2004 – 150* from 312 balls
v England, Dec 2004 – 162 from 264 balls
v Pakistan, Oct 2007 – 155 from 249 balls
v New Zealand, Nov 2007 – 186 from 262 balls
v India, Feb 2010 – 173 from 351 balls
South African cricket looks to be in a crisis, if you ask me.
Nobody had a problem with Mickey Arthur resigning as national coach. It was one of those things. Fine.
But today we’ve found out that the selection committee, including convenor Mike Procter, have been canned (and that there’s even more upheaval at Gauteng where a bunch of directors have been booted out!).
The new selectors are caretaker coach Corrie van Zyl, former captain Kepler Wessels and Cricket SA CEO Gerald Majola!!!! Majola is the convenor.
Maybe I’m naive, but why is an administrator getting involved in team selection?
Is it for transformation reasons? If so, why hasn’t his federation done more to transform sport so he doesn’t have to try window-dressing the national team?
Maybe he, or the CSA board, just want more control of team selection.
Perhaps there’s another reason altogether, but whatever it is, administrators should not get involved in picking the team.
As CEO does Majola have the time to watch the players at net practice?
This is not a good omen for SA cricket.
If Alex Ferguson had preferred cricket to football and found himself coaching the Proteas in 2010, one has to wonder if Graeme Smith would have ousted him like he did Mickey Arthur.
I don’t want to get into an examination of whether Arthur was a good coach or not, but the issue of power, as raised by The Times’ cricket columnist Alex Parker, is an interesting one. He believes that the captain should hold the power in a team.
But what happens if a captain becomes too powerful, as apparently happened to Hansie Cronje before his fall from grace over match-fixing claims?
And if the captain has the power, who will drop him when his own form dips? Can he be expected to make an objective decision if he stands to lose a fortune in salary if he drops himself? I doubt it.
Remember the outcry when then Springbok coach dumped skipper Gary Teichmann before the 1999 Rugby World Cup? Teichmann was certainly aggrieved, and he clearly wouldn’t have dropped himself had the decision been his.
But Mallett was perfectly correct in his decision – Teichman proved he was way off his best playing for the losing Sharks side in the Currie Cup final against the Lions – but the coach’s mistake was the replacements he chose for eighthman.
Equally, there are times when an all-powerful coach is a bad thing – like Rudolf Straeuli piling his team into Kamp Staaldraad before the 2003 World Cup. Captain Corne Krige lacked the character to stand up to him at the time!
Captain versus coach? Is cricket different to football or rugby?
Ideally, they should work together as a team (that’s what team sports are about, after all).
But in the end I would think that a coach should always have the final say. After all, you always need someone to drop the captain – and that’s a job that should never be left to administrators.
Sachin Tendulkar, the Indian superstar who keeps setting new batting records, is the Jonah Lomu of world cricket.
Little Master is one of the few batsmen to have scored centuries against every Test-playing nation.
But there is just one team he has never beaten while scoring a century against them – and that is South Africa.
Three times he has scored 100s against South Africa – all of them in South Africa – and twice he’s been on the losing side, and the third his team drew.
His highest Test score at home against South Africa is 97, in Mumbai in February 2000, and India still lost that match.
Lomu, the massive bulldozing All Black rugby winger, never managed to score a Test try against South Africa.
Two events on almost opposite ends of the world – and yet both could have big repercussions on sport in South Africa.
The one was a warning by Fifa, football’s world governing body, telling Iraq’s Olympic Committee to reinstate the national football association board it had dissolved or face suspension.
The similarity with what’s happening at home is frighteningly similar. The SA Olympic Committee, Sascoc, has suspended the board of Athletics SA (ASA) and on Monday finally moved into the federation’s headquarters to take over. Read More…
Veterans Day may be specific to the United States, but here in South Africa I recently saw an elderly gent in uniform collecting money for former soldiers.
He was at a shopping mall, and he asked my wife not to deposit notes into his tin, but rather coins, because his previous donations had been stolen.
Apparently robbers watched him from a distance and after they saw him receiving notes, they targeted him. How sad!!
As a kid I knew many people who had fought during World War II, but naturally, not anymore. A person who turned 18 in 1945 would now be 82.
Sport, of course, had its share of WW2 veterans. I once interviewed tennis star Eric Sturgess, who was a fighter pilot and ended up in the prisoner of war camp featured in the Steve McQueen movie, The Great Escape.
There were Springbok rugby players like Francis Mellish, John Aspey and Okey Geffen, also prisoners of war in Africa.
Australian cricketer Keith Miller, a pilot, also saw action.
And there were also boxers, including then reigning world heavyweight champion Joe Louis and the man who nearly beat him, Billy Conn.
These old veterans are the last living link between us and the past – let’s treasure them because before long they’ll all be gone.
Sachin Tendulkar played his seventh one-day international in Nagpur on Wednesday – and scored his lowest total ever on that ground!
Little Maestro managed just four runs, from a single boundary, before falling to Peter Siddle and failing for the first time to reach double figures at the Vidarbha stadium.