Thursday, 08 September 2011

The New Coach

                               Video of Gary Kirsten's farewell speech to the Indian
                                                             team and fans.

Gary Kirsten has recently signed a two year contract as coach for the Proteas.

As a player Gary Kirsten achieved much in his career. He became the first ever South African batsman to play in 100 tests. He also equalled the record for the highest test batting score of 275 against England. He still owns the highest score by a player in a World Cup (188 not out).

As India's coach he took them to the finals of the Kitply Cup and the 2008 Asia Cup, led them to beat Australia in a home series, led their first bilateral series win in Sri Lanka, and led them to their first ODI series victory against the Black Caps in New Zealand in 40 years. Captain M.S. Dhoni has described him as, "The best thing to happen to Indian cricket." (

Kirsten coached India to their World Cup victory this year and from the team's celebrations it is clear the team greatly appreciated him. Can he lead us to victories like that? Only time can tell. But feel free to comment.

Indian players acknowledge Gary Kirsten after
their world cup final win against Sri Lanka

Do you feel that Mickey Arthur stepping down as coach was due to unfair political circumstances? Give your opinion. This blog by Duncan Fletcher, a man close to Kirsten, reveals why he was a good coach for India.

A great deal of information about the new coach can be found at Gary Kirsten's official website (

© Nicholas Zaal 08 September 2011.

AB & Amla Awesome

Familiar sight? AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla each make a century against
West Indies with a 129 run partnership between them. Taken
on 22 May 2010.
These two are fighting it out as two of the best batsmen in the world. According to Reliance ICC Player Rankings ( Amla is the number one batsmen in ODIs in the world with 887 points and AB is number two with 804 points. In tests de Villiers is number 10 and Amla is number 12. The same source predicts both to improve their test rankings.

Indeed both exhibit a great deal of aggression and confidence in their batting. Amla plays more with his wrists, which must be ridiculously strong, and AB plays more with an orthodox, text book technique. Both are instrumental to the Proteas and highly efficient run-makers.

Their stats show why they are ranked so highly. Yahoo!cricket shows that In ODIs Amla has 2,462 runs at an average of 57.25. AB has 4,523 runs at 45.68. What's even more impressive than their averages is their strike rates. Amla has an ODI strike rate of 92.73. de Villiers has one of 91.3. Their averages and strike rates are two of the highest to ever appear in ODI cricket.

What surprises me the most about these two is that, if you remember, neither of them started their proteas careers very well. AB came into the 2007 World Cup with an average of a little more than 15. Between you and me I wanted him dropped from the team. But he silenced me in our game against West Indies in that competition making 146 off 130 balls.

Amla also started out as the most defensive player in our team. He was only picked for test matches and at first he did not make a great deal of runs. The combination of this and his poor strike rate made me question him. But he too has become a new batsmen since then. I now regard him as probably the most aggressive middle-order batsmen we possess.

Both of these players have shown tremendous consistency, the likes of which I have not seen before in the Proteas. AB de Villiers is now the ODI and T20 captain for the Proteas. Amla is his vice-captain.

de Villiers and Amla after their record third wicket
partnership against the Netherlands in this year's world cup.
It just shows you can't quickly judge someone's capabilities. People need time to reach their potential. It's a good thing Mickey Arthur did not give up on these two, like I did for a while.

Please comment below. One random person who comments will receive a free pair of Gunn & Moore cricket gloves. This is a good blog about AB de Villiers attaining the captaincy of the ODI and T20 squad.

© Nicholas Zaal 08 September 2011.

Honouring Graeme Smith

Thumbs up by the man

One cannot discuss the Proteas without mentioning the test captain. Although Smith is injury prone and his failings often lead to failings on a team level, I still regard him as an excellent captain and one of my favourite opening batsmen in the world.

Of course I am biased in my view but what can I say, he's cool. Who will ever forget him coming out to bat against Australia in 2008 with a broken hand, trying to save a test that didn't quite matter? He became the youngest South African captain at the age of 22. He's led us to many victories over the years including number one rankings in tests and ODIs. But of course, we are still yet to win a World Cup.

He was succeeded as captain of ODIs and T20s by AB de Villiers. I personally feel this is a good idea as it will give AB a chance to hone his skills as a captain, and allow Smith to concentrate more on his batting. Smith is still captain of our test team and I'm sure his experience will rub off on AB in the future.

According to Smith once said, "People want a say in who leads them." So please comment and tell me what you think of Smith as test captain. Should he be captain? Or should he be de-throned?

Graeme Smith's wedding with Morgan Deane in August this year This is Standard Bank's blog. here they show their appreciation for his work over the years as T20 captain. I like what they say.  This is Smith's official blog. It's quite out-dated but if you haven't seen it before it's really interesting.

© Nicholas Zaal  8 September 2011