South Africa are bloody annoying to play against

We’re a day late with this and have little to add, but since when has turning up late and contributing little stopped us?

Just over a year ago, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers combined to play out an unlikely draw against Australia. Du Plessis made 110 not out over about seven-and-a-half hours. De Villiers hit a chronically shotless 33 off 220 balls. This weekend, they did something similar against India, although de Villiers did actually remember to hit the ball this time.

South Africa made 450-7 – eight runs short of victory – with 134 from du Plessis (run out!) and 103 from de Villiers. Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn batted out the draw. They were actually slightly further off victory than appears because Steyn hit the final ball of the match for six.

Up until that last day, India had looked magic.Virat Kohli made light of alien conditions (alien as in ‘unfamiliar’ – there was oxygen and what have you) in the first innings and was then almost as good in the second innings, but found himself outshone by Che Pujara who is becoming a somewhat wearying number three for opposition teams what with his unquashable love of scoring runs and all. Between times, the Indian seamers – including a newly svelte Zaheer Khan, who somewhat inexplicably chose France as the place where he would eat less bread – did a fine job, ensuring an Indian first innings lead.

But this is what South Africa do. They’re feisty sods and these kinds of draws can be dispiriting and physically wearing for the dominant team. Last year, South Africa’s stunning dead-battery knocked Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus out of the following Test match, allowing them to win the series. This time around, there’s (infuriatingly) only one Test to go, so no-one will be rested from the Indian bowling attack. Some of them might be a little less zingy, even if they’re not flabbing in to bowl these days.

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17 Appeals

  1. The best part is that everyone’s still arguing about who did better to draw the test, and therefore claim the moral victory. Only in cricket can you have two teams battle it out over five days, and still argue afterwards about who won.

    What a cracking game though.

  2. Watching the end of this match yesterday reminded me why I love test cricket so much.

    The one-sided Ashes matches have been a shadow of such cricket. Put aside the fact that my team was losing – horribly one-sided tests are simply not interesting – or, as Graeme Swann would no doubt put it, they are bottoms.

    • “Watching the end of this match yesterday reminded me why I love test cricket so much.”

      Reading each day’s report from the opposite time zone reminded me thus.

    • I bet you didn’t mind the one-sideded too much when your team was winning.

    • It was all too rare against non-minnow opposition, Rusty. But actually, once the initial excitement of the near kill passed, the inevitable denouement panning out over a couple of days did little for me. The Ashes Test, Lord’s, 2013 being a classic example of that feeling.

  3. The bowlers will be tired, but hopefully the fact that SA looked set for a win and didn’t get it will keep India from being too dispirited. On the other hand, the same can be said for the Saffers.

    Apparently, the call to not go for the win was made Philander and Steyn. That’s pretty interesting. I wonder what Faf and AB really think of it.

  4. I found it incredibly infuriating that South Africa, having nearly achieved the greatest 4th innings chase in test history, decided to shut up shop with three overs to go… they had immortality in their grasp and traded it for the mess of pottage that is a 0-0 scoreline going into the second test.

    Surely, *surely* you’ve got to roll the dice in that situation?

    • India shut up shop first. Bouncer barrage at Steyn with everyone on the boundary. Apparently Steyn made the call not to go for it on that basis and that the rest of the batting lineup consisted of a Croc and a Rabbit. He’s getting shit for not going for it (booed off the park!) but I feel he’s made a very brave call not to dip into the cookie jar.

    • The aim when SA started batting was to save the test. That was achieved, so job done. The win would have been a bonus. If there was more overs left SA would have made the total, so the moral victory is def there in that in future matches the opposing captains will not know how much to leave SA to chase..

  5. South Africa choked.

    • Bit harsh to call it a choke, but I think the spectre of the c-word definitely played its part in them not going for it.

  6. From the body language I observed, Steyn wanted to go for it whereas Philander did not.

  7. This is all completely true.

  8. This is all completely false.

  9. Well, two positives from today.

    1. Pietersen went past Boycott, which might shut the old git up.
    2: Bairstow failed, so Prior might get his place back sooner.

    • Pietersen and Boycott in the same sentence – a veritable git-fest indeed, daneel – neither of them are likely to shut up any time soon, though.

      I saw the first session and the last hour – much like Boxing Days of yore – I thought the Aussie attack looked very well-disciplined and very lively – I’m reserving judgment on England batting changes until I have seen our new boys against good but less relentless attacks – e.g. Sri Lanka and India summer 2014. I’m reserving judgment on Bairstow’s keeping at this level until I have actually seen him keep. That only seems fair.

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