TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
FOUR days into his debut test, Dane Vilas could take issue with Hashim Amla’s joke before the start of the match that “if it was easy it would be called easy cricket”.
But so far, so easy for Vilas, who like the other players involved in the second test between Bangladesh and SA in Dhaka has, except for the odd warm-up session, spent the past three days with his feet up.
The hattrick was completed on Sunday when Cyclone Komen showed no signs of going and the fourth day’s play was abandoned just like the third and second days’ before it.
That left the match high and incongruously dry on its day one stumps score of 246/8 in Bangladesh’s first innings. Of the 360 overs that should have been bowled by the end of yesterday’s play, only 88.1 have been sent down.
Not that others’ lives have been as lightly brushed by the storm as the cricketers’. Yesterday morning the death toll in the region approached 100. Some 700 000 people had been adversely affected in India alone and another 60 000 had been evacuated from the Cox’s Bazaar area of Bangladesh.
But Vilas, who at 30 has been waiting for his chance and earned it because of Quinton de Kock’s batting blues, could be forgiven for narrowing his focus to the cricket. Or lack of it.
“I was very excited to get my cap and play that first day,” Vilas said. “But the last couple of days have been frustrating. It’s been bittersweet – really exciting but also disappointing because of the rain.
“We’ve spent quite a lot of time at the hotel watching movies and bonding. Obviously it’s frustrating because you want to be playing cricket but the mood in the dressingroom is good.”
Vilas, 30, with 10 centuries and an average of 41.00 from his 71 first-class matches, has made a decent fist of things in the limited time he has had to get noticed at the highest level.
The five byes he has conceded can all be blamed on Morne Morkel spraying deliveries down the leg side, and while he spilled one catch – a fiendishly difficult chance off Simon Harmer’s bowling – he held two others.
They were also difficult grabs, off Dean Elgar and JP Duminy. But as an experienced gloveman Vilas made them look simple. “Thanks to Dean and JP for helping me out,” he said.
De Kock, who was dropped after scraping together 100 runs in his six innings across all formats on the Bangladesh tour, has been re-assigned to SA A’s tour to India – which starts on Wednesday and ends on August 28.
Thing is, Vilas is at this stage also in the SA A squad and is set to captain them in the two four-day matches they will play against India A.
New Zealand, meanwhile, will be in SA from August 14 to 26 to play SA in two T20s and three one-day internationals.
And if both Vilas and De Kock are in India, who might be behind the stumps against the Kiwis? AB de Villiers, freshly back from daddy duty, is the obvious answer.
But, for Vilas, things were not that simple: “Everybody wants to get into this team.”
Including, of course, Morne van Wyk.