TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
PERHAPS SA would have made a first of things against Bangladesh in Dhaka on Sunday if they had played them at rugby. Maybe they thought they were …
Of course, the teams played cricket. At least, the Bangladeshis did. SA played a brand of something that stooped so far below their established standards they crashed to defeat by seven wickets against opponents they had thrashed in three consecutive games.
Which is where rugby comes in. On Monday, Rilee Rossouw was docked 50% of his match fee for a shoulder charge on Tamim Iqbal in the moments after the latter had been dismissed by Kagiso Rabada. Might Rossouw have been channelling his inner Butch James?
On his way to the SA team’s huddle in celebration of the wicket, Rossouw – according to an International Cricket Council statement – “made inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with his shoulder against (Tamim)”.
Match referee David Boon said Rossouw described the incident as “inappropriate but not deliberate” which Boon found to be “an explanation to which I agreed”.
Rossouw, who admitted his guilt, got away with the minimum penalty for a level two breach of the code of conduct.
SA’s unseemly derailment against a team they should beat eight days out of seven is not nearly so neatly dealt with. Having won the T20s by 52 and 31 runs and the first ODI by eight wickets, another snotklap seemed certain.
And it would have been delivered had SA played their A, B or even their C game. Instead, they shambled about like extras from a bad zombie movie, seemingly secure in the fiction that all they had to do to clinch the series was pitch up.
However, frustration bubbles up even in the undead. Cue Rossouw trying to shoulder an unfair amount of the responsibility for putting the life back into SA.
But there is a happy ending to this dark tale in the form of the third ODI in Chittagong on Wednesday, which is now the deciding match of the series.
“SA have got to get back to what they did in the previous three games – get some runs on the board and let the bowlers do what they can do,” former SA allrounder Justin Kemp said on Monday.
“If SA play well they’ll win – there’s no doubt.”
Former SA batsman Herschelle Gibbs looked at SA’s challenge from the bowlers’ perspective: “Bangladesh have five or six guys who can hold their own. If you can get through them, you can roll them.”
Kemp and Gibbs played in the 2007 World Cup match between SA and Bangladesh in Guyana, which was, until Sunday, SA’s only loss to the Tigers in 27 matches across all formats. That day, SA chased 252 and were dismissed for 184.
The usually attacking Kemp gutsed out seven runs off 29 balls. Gibbs, who batted at No. 6 and with Ashwell Prince running for him because of cramp, saw five teammates come and go while scoring an unbeaten 56, just 16 of them in boundaries.
“I stood at square leg watching the wickets going down and thinking, ‘Come on okes – get it together now’,” Gibbs said.
On Sunday, a nation knew how he felt.