Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Dale Steyn is back!

Dale Steyn made such a spectacular return to Test cricket in the home Test series against New Zealand, that he made the other bowlers look mediocre. While Quinton de Kock won man of the match for his runs on a difficult pitch in the second Test, Steyn took a five wicket-haul and returned figures of eight wickets for 99 run in the match, and 10 wickets for 102 runs across the series. The 'Steyn Remover' has passed famous Pakistan bowler Wasim Akram in Test wickets, and with 416 Test scalps, Steyn's only compatriot with more Test wickets is Shaun Pollock (421).

Guess who is back to taking wickets and winning matches for South Africa. Photo from From

I previously blogged that Kagiso Rabida would be the deciding factor in the series. Little did I know that Steyn would be back to his amazing self, and Vernon Philander would, in his return Test, heap huge pressure on the other end to force batsmen to play against Steyn. From a bowling perspective, it was beautiful. Our first batting innings in the second Test was excellent, especially when you consider that New Zealand won the toss and sent us into bat. The first five batsmen all scored at least half centuries, including a fantastic hundred by Faf du Plessis. The pitch deteriorated quickly near the end of the first day, which goes to show how impressive and important the innings was.

There are so many positives South Africa can take from this series, being their first series this cricket season, and playing against New Zealand who walked over Zimbabwe just before it. Next up is an One Day International against Ireland in Benoni on 25 September, and then a five-match ODI series against Australia, starting in Centurion on 30 September.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Proteas must rely on Rabada

Only the best will stand out when South Africa hosts New Zealand for two Test matches, starting on 19 and 27 August. The Proteas have lost captain AB de Villiers and bowler Morne Morkel due to injury, which will not help them against an in-form Black Caps squad which is ranked one place higher on the ICC Test rankings (fifth).

Bowlers Steyn and Philander have recovered from long-term injuries and will look to mark their return in a big way when they first take on the Black Caps in the familiar Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, Durban. But I believe the pressure lies more heavily on the shoulders of world number seven ODI bowler Kagiso Rabada. New Zealand already have the accomplished bowling pair Tim Southee and Trent Boult, to counter our Steyn and Philander. Both batting line-ups are also strong, with New Zealand's probably better because of AB's injury. This is why it is up on Rabada to tip the balance in our favour.

The 21-year-old has shown such great potential. He already has better bowling statistics than Boult and Southee, although the number of matches played is a factor. In six Tests, he has already taken three five-wicket hauls in an innings and one 10-wicket haul in a match. His Test bowling average is an impressive 24.70, and in ODIs he has taken 37 wickets at an average of 21.45. 

I cannot stop blogging about this guy. He is the next great South African bowler, and the outcome of this series, and indeed of many more to come, are at his mercy.

Kagiso Rabada holds the fate of the Proteas in his hands. CC Search image.

This is the South African team for the series: Faf du Plessis (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Stephen Cook, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Dean Elgar, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Stiaan van Zyl.