Category: South Africa (page 2 of 27)

What score should we give that mad Ben Stokes catch?

Ben Stokes (all images via ICC video)
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Duanne Olivier says he wants to play for England now

Duanne Olivier (via Sky Sports)
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County cricket is dying and poverty-stricken and if something isn’t done soon the counties won’t even have enough money to tempt the world’s finest cricketers to renounce their international careers any more

Duanne Olivier (via Sky Sports)
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Someone has hidden or misplaced the Sri Lanka Test team that subsides to predictable defeats. If anyone tracks it down, they should probably alert the authorities. Its parents will no doubt be very worried

Oshada Fernando just absolutely smears one to the boundary (via Sky Sports)
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Kusal Perera does not care for circumstances

Kusal Perera (via Sky Sports)
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South Africa just choked in a major tournament and no-one seems to be going on about it

West Indies v South Africa (via ICC YouTube)

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“Our bowling is an area of concern”

Katherine Brunt leathers a six (via BBC)

So said South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk after her team had conceded a world record 216-1 in a T20 against New Zealand and then a few hours later conceded 250-3 against England.

“An area of concern” is a great way of putting it. “An absolute liability” is just that little bit too straightforward, while “absolute dog toss” isn’t a very diplomatic way of rating the performance of your team-mates.

“We spoke between games about what we wanted to do, but did the complete opposite,” she added.

She didn’t say why.

AB de Villiers finally picks a cake

Photo by Sarah Ansell

AB de Villiers spent rather a long time desperately trying to engineer a cake monopoly. He wanted to retain and eat The Cake of International Cricket; he wanted to retain and eat The Lucrative Cake of T20 Franchise Cricket; and he also wanted to retain and eat The Cake of Having a Little Bit of Time Off.

Sometimes a man’s desires are impractical and AB finally seems to have accepted that the world isn’t organised how he wants it to be. He’s therefore taken the decision to forego The Cake of International Cricket.

It seems odd timing with a World Cup not so far away. Maybe David Warner and Nathan Lyon broke his spirit.

Exactly how bad was Australia’s tour of South Africa?

Excuse making (via Sky Sports video)

Most Test tours are bad tours these days because it is rare for any team to win away from home. That said, there are different degrees of badness. We have a faint suspicion that Australia’s recently-completed tour of South Africa might have been unusually bad. Let’s try and work out whether that really was the case.

It’s important to be methodical when you’re asking a nebulous sort of question like this, so let’s set a series of sub-questions and try and answer each of them in turn. There are no points on offer here – we aren’t going to precisely quantify the badness – but hopefully by breaking down the larger question into smaller ones, we can get a clearer idea of how things went. These are questions you could ask of any tour but in this particular instance they are being applied to South Africa v Australia.

Are you ready?

Okay, let’s go.

Did the team lose any significant players to injury, retirement or for some other reason?

Teams lose players all the time for all sorts of different reasons. Often, it’s not a problem, because the player in question is being deliberately discarded because they aren’t very good at Test cricket. Sometimes, however, their absence is keenly felt as the player leaves a vacuum that cannot be filled (even though nature famously finds such situations abhorrent).

Did Australia lose any significant players to injury? No, not really. Not in the long-term anyway. Not beyond the usual wear-and-tear on fast bowlers that occasionally sees one or another sitting out a game or two.

Did Australia lose any significant player to retirement? No, they did not. South Africa actually had a far worse series than Australia in this regard, losing Morne Morkel for that very reason.

Did Australia lose any significant player for any other reason? Yes. Yes, they did. They lost no fewer than three players thanks to a ball-tampering attempt so woeful and ineffective that the umpires didn’t even feel it necessary to penalise them five runs.

While all three players who have been lost could eventually return, you’d have to say that the side will be worse off for a decent enough period that their absence can legitimately be considered ‘a bit of a blow’.

As it stands, Australia have lost their best batsman and second-best batsman for one whole year. They also lost their captain and vice captain for the same period because they are the exact same people.

They have lost both their opening batsmen (although the inferior one could return slightly sooner).

It’s probably worth mentioning that they lost their coach too.

Verdict: Australia just lost over a quarter of the team and it was a rather important quarter. This was a bad tour for Australia.

Did the team lose any matches by an enormous margin?

Chasing 612 to win in the fourth Test, Australia were bowled out for 119. Their last seven wickets fell for 31. Two players reached double figures.

Verdict: This was a bad tour for Australia.

Was the team reduced to cheating?


Verdict: This was a bad tour for Australia.

Were any of the players reduced to tears?

Yes. Several of them.

Verdict: This was a bad tour for Australia.

Did the team in any way embarrass itself?

Just to repeat what we said four sections ago, Australia lost three players to a ball-tampering attempt so woeful and ineffective that the umpires didn’t even feel it necessary to penalise them five runs.

That, in itself, is pretty embarrassing. Throw in a bizarre and pointless fake explanation where they said they planned to use tape with dirt on it instead of the sandpaper they actually used and we have to go up an embarrassment level. Then the whole country went mental and revealed itself to be the only cricket-playing nation that had no inkling whatsoever that Australian cricketers might not actually be the sport’s ultimate moral supremos after all.

It was all very inglorious and unaware and hypocritical and a big, great overreaction. And yes, because of all of those things, the team did in a very real sense embarrass itself (and this is without even mentioning the run-out ‘celebrations’ that we’re going to come to in a couple of sections time or the whole barney-on-the-stairs thing that we’re not going to mention at all other than here in this sentence).

Oh, and then David Warner went rogue. We almost forgot that bit.

Verdict: This was a bad tour for Australia.

Did results deteriorate?

The nature of Test cricket means that the winning margin can be expressed in runs or in wickets. This can be problematic if you’re trying to make direct comparisons.

Let’s take a look at the results in this series and try and work out whether they got worse for Australia.

  • Australia won the first Test by 118 runs
  • South Africa won the second Test by six wickets
  • South Africa won the third Test by 322 runs
  • South Africa won the fourth Test by 492 runs

Clearly losing is worse than winning and losing by a greater number of runs is worse than losing by fewer runs, so the only question that remains is whether losing by 322 runs is worse than losing by six wickets.

Going off average scores, six wickets would generally result in fewer than 322 runs, so we’d say that the third Test result was worse for Australia than the second Test result.

Verdict: Results deteriorated. This was a bad tour for Australia.

Did the team start out kind of noisy and full of itself but end up quiet, subdued and slightly humiliated?

This is a great way of deducing whether or not a team had a bad tour or not. By comparing the players’ general demeanour at the start and end points of the tour, it becomes easy to see what has changed.

If the team is nervous at the start and all boisterous and irrepressible at the end then it’s been a good tour. If the team starts off gobby and cocky but ends up mute and diminished then it’s been a bad tour.

Way back at the start of March, Australia had a great deal of conspicuous fun running out AB de Villiers for a duck. Nathan Lyon dropped the ball at him; David Warner’s inner chimp took control (and also locked himself in the cockpit for the remainder of the tour); and afterwards, everyone accepted their fines and resolved to carry on doing almost exactly the same thing anyway, regardless of the financial cost.

By the end of the tour, one of those players was in a different country and Dean Elgar was making reference to “the most docile test” he’d ever played against Australia.

Appropriately enough, the series ended with Nathan Lyon being run out. No-one roared in his face because Australia were not at this point credible opposition worthy of face-roaring.

Verdict: This was a bad tour for Australia.

In summary

We posed seven questions and after all seven of them we concluded that Australia’s tour of South Africa was a bad one. This leads us to believe that regarded as a whole, Australia’s tour of South Africa was very bad.


Let’s celebrate that magnificent Rabada v Warner thing without at any point expressing support for all the stuff that gave rise to it

Rabada and Warner (all images via Sky Sports video)

Here at King Cricket, we’re not at all in favour of unnecessary on-field aggro: fielders over-celebrating dismissals, bowlers getting right up in the batsman’s face and all that.


We are HUGELY in favour of adrenaline-fuelled cricket – particularly when it involves a true fast bowler and a batsman who comes across as maybe being a bit of an arsehole.

It is just such a tremendously watchable feature of cricket. In what is ostensibly a team sport, you have two guys who hate each other basically going head-to-head, the guy with the bat making the guy with the ball hate him more and more and more until finally there’s a moment of catharsis.

And you know what? Sometimes all that bad stuff that we totally don’t approve of actually helps give rise to this kind of thing.

So let’s entirely overlook the cause and instead celebrate the effect because David Warner and Kagiso Rabada had a thing today and it was very much amazing and fun.

Rabada began by hitting Warner on the arm. It was his second ball and already we had the physio on.

Strapping in place, Warner promptly popped Rabada for four next ball.

The ball after that was a leg-bye and he got off strike.

The next Rabada over, Warner was facing again. First ball he nearly chopped on and got a single. Back on strike, this is where things really went up a notch because he hit the final three balls of the over for four.

The first was a legitimate cover drive, the second was a definitely-going-after-this-guy-no-matter-what scythe thing and the third one was off his pads.

And it continued.

The first ball of Rabada’s next over was, as you might imagine, short.

It went for six.

We’re not sure exactly what you want to read into this, but Rabada’s next delivery was a no-ball.

That also went to the ropes.

So that’s Rabada v Warner, five boundaries on the bounce. What would you absolutely 100 per cent most definitely want to see happen at this point?

Just stop and think. Imagine that you know in advance that this is the last ball you’re going to see. Things aren’t going to build up any more that this. This is the finish. What do you want to see?

Cartwheeling stump! The finest sight in sport.

After that, Usman Khawaja walked out and everyone felt a bit deflated and a load of people switched off.

Honestly, this might just have been the most perfect passage of cricket there’s ever been.

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