Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Proteas and the World Cup

The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 is so close now (it starts on 14 February) it is impossible not to get excited. Every time the World Cup comes around, we as South Africans ask ourselves the same old questions: How will we do this time? Will the Proteas choke again? The Proteas have an average record in World Cups, reaching three semi-finals in seven tournaments. Our best finishing place was third, and our worst was eighth. For a team that has usually been ranked in the top four in the world, we perhaps have not done well enough in the World Cup.

Every four years we wonder if this will be the occasion when our players will show the world how good they are, and go all the way. But to win the World Cup is not easy. A team has to have performed consistently (for about a month and a half) with the bat, the ball and in the field. Proteas Coach Russell Domingo recently said in an interview that he hopes South Africa will do better at the end of the tournament. This is where we have failed in the past, with so many bad semi and quarter-final performances.

Proteas One Day International Captain AB de Villiers will want his team to go far in the World Cup.

But we are ranked third in the world in One Day Internationals at the moment. We also have AB de Villiers in first place as ODI batsman in the world, Hashim Amla in third and (a surprise to me when I saw) Quinton de Kock in seventh place. Recent centuries by Rilee Rossouw and David Miller, and the class we know that JP Duminy has, we can be happy with our batting. 

Of course our fielding is very good at the moment. Faf du Plessis, David Miller, Rilee Rossouw, AB de Villiers and JP Duminy are very quick on the ball, and make batsman pause before trying to sneak a single.

Our bowling department is the problem. I would like to go into this at more depth another time, but although Dale Steyn is third in the world, and Morne Morkel in ninth (somehow!), our bowling has been bad lately. In my opinion Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander are our only good seam bowlers. Imran Tahir is an on-and-off spinner, but usually reliable. The rest are mediocre. 

Having said that, I can barely wait for the World Cup to start, and for the Proteas to throw that monkey off their shoulders.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Australia to win the World Cup

I think that the team with the most chance to win the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 is Australia. Many fans will point to the the class in the Indian batting lineup. Especially as the team won the last World Cup. In response I will highlight their bowling attack. Many will point to South Africa's recent success against the West Indies. I will highlight our past failures at the World Cup and a lack of consistency in One Day Internationals in recent years. 

Australia will be playing at home, and the talent and experience in their squad will make them strong favourites.
Mitchell Starc is an excellent bowler in the Australian team. Photo from

The pitches in Australia and New Zealand favour fast bowlers and attacking batsmen. Australia has exactly that. Mitchell Starc has burst onto the scene as a deadly fast bowler. The 24-year-old has already taken 59 ODI wickets at an average of 20.11 and economy of 4.97. Pat Cummins is another young bowler with very fast pace and skill, and James Faulkner is a great death bowler. 

The batsmen in the team should be of even more concern to opposition teams. Aaron Finch and David Warner are a deadly opening combination. Both are aggressive, and if either stays in for more than 30 overs, the team will probably set a total of 300+. If Michael Clarke (33) recovers from his injury he will be the most experienced player in the team. He has scored 7 762 ODI runs at an average of 44.86. George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell can provide great end-of-innings smashing, while Brad Haddin brings much experience.

As of 23 January Australia is ranked fourth in the world in ODIs, according to the International Cricket Council rankings. England is first, South Africa is second and India is third. Australia have also won the World Cup the most number of times, which is four times.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Tide turns against the Caribbean

I blogged in December that South Africa would beat the West Indies in their Test series, but the Caribbean side would win the T20 International series. I was correct. I also said that the One Day International series could go either way. I've changed my mind.

The return of AB de Villiers and other key players will likely help the Proteas win the current ODI series against the West Indies.

When the Proteas won the Test series 2–0 it was no surprise, although the West Indies pushed us hard in the second Test. Losing the T20I International series 2–1 was expected. But the Proteas showed determination to make our highest T20I score (231) in the second match, and put in a good all-round performance in the third match to win back some pride. After our victory in the third T20I, I think that momentum has shifted towards us, and with the return of some of our best cricketers, I am 70% certain we will win the ODI series.

AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, JP Duminy and Vernon Philander come back to the playing 11. This will bolster the Proteas, while I think the West Indies squad will be pretty tired after a long tour. The five ODIs will be played in a short space of time (16, 18, 21, 25 and 28 January). This will demand a lot from the players.

With the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 to start in less than one month, both sides will see this series as preparation, and want to make sure they know what their strengths and weaknesses are. A win would also boost their confidence. But I think SA will take it. We are better rested and have our best players back.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Alviro – A player of the past

Alviro Petersen (34) recently announced his decision to retire from international cricket. This will come into effect from 01 April. The Proteas opening batsman made his Test match debut for South Africa in February 2010, in India. He scored 100 in his first innings.

Alviro Petersen did the right thing by retiring from international cricket now. Photo taken from
For me, Petersen joined the national side when we were struggling to find good opening batsmen. He did well. His respectable performances seemed like an answer to our need. Establishing himself as a reliable Test opener, he attacked from early on in his innings, slowed down later, and often finished on a good score.

But as with every cricketer, as the years went on he struggled more and more to turn out the good performances we saw from him in the past. The inevitable effect of time influenced his career, and his batting average dropped to less than 40. Then it dropped to the mid thirties, where it will probably stay forever.

Do not misunderstand me. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Alviro Petersen open the batting for South Africa. He displayed great technique and played with confidence. He also played very well for the bizhub Highveld Lions, the domestic cricket team in Johannesburg. I will miss Petersen. But it is time for him to go.

Even the greats Jacques Kallis, Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar had to retire when they could not go on. It is part of life. The spirit may endure but the body and mind will eventually fail. Farewell Alviro Peterson and thanks for five years of good cricket.

Below are Alviro Petersen's statistics as of 12 January 2015:

Batting and fielding averages
List A168161115083145*33.88731640
Bowling averages
List A16839436182/482/4845.125.4949.2000

Monday, 05 January 2015

Solution to India's wicketkeeper problem

The recent retirement of Mahendra Singh Dhoni (33) from Test cricket will likely be a blow to Indian cricket. Dhoni was formerly the Test captain, and a good wicketkeeper. He is a competitive but well-mannered, calm man, who one cannot help but respect. His aggression with the bat is well known, and he will probably destroy several bowling attacks in One Day Internationals and T20 Internationals for at least one more year.

A great wicketkeeper will be needed to fill the shoes of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Photo from
But his calling time on Test cricket came a big surprise to many. Although Virat Kohli has been made the new Test captain, no suitable replacement wicketkeeper has been groomed yet. Here is a solution I propose of how the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should respond to the wicketkeeper gap Dhoni leaves behind.

1. Allow Wriddhiman Saha to fill the gap until the World Cup. The 30-year-old wicketkeeper is in the Test side but has not performed well in internationals yet. His age and poor performances leaves me to think that he should act only as a temporary replacement until the World Cup is over early next year, so that a suitable replacement can be slowly introduced in all three formats of the game.

2. Consider the 'Tried Alreadies'. Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel are all good wicketkeeper batsmen with some international experience. However, all three are 29 years old and the expiry dates on their international careers are sooner than one might like. The BCCI should consider them, as they at least deserve consideration, but then move on to better alternatives.

3. Consider the 'We Could Try Hims'. Ambati Rayudu (29) is a very good batsman who occasionally puts on the gloves. He could be persuaded to do so on a permanent basis. If he agrees and performs well he could be an effective wicketkeeper for a few years. But...

Sanju Samson (20) is the Quinton de Kock of India. He is a young, attacking batsman who has already hurt his country's best bowlers domestically. I think he would be the best long-term replacement for Dhoni in all formats. From what I have seen of him in the Indian Premiere League, he has the big match temperament and confidence that could see him go far. His domestic statistics are not great, but it is a tad early to judge them. I believe that he could easily be India's best wicketkeeper batsman in a few years.

Sanju Samson may be the solution to the wicketkeeper problem in India. Photo from