TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
“JIRRE jong,” a journalist flustered by having to make several major revisions to his report, each more hasty than the last, on the see-sawing second T20 between SA and England at Newlands on Friday said as he placed his recorder in front of Faf du Plessis at the press conference that followed.
Du Plessis looked up, flashed a smile and quipped, “En daar wen ons sommer a moerse game!”
A moerse game, indeed – which SA won by three wickets off the last ball. Two days later at the Wanderers, another moerse performance, this one more emphatic than exciting, had SA home and hosed by nine wickets with 32 balls to spare.
With that SA had reeled off five consecutive victories over England in the shorter formats. In a season that will be remembered for troubling test series in India and against England, that is a consolation rather than a cause for celebration.
For now, that is. SA’s first match in the World T20 in India, also against England, is 25 days away. Should De Plessis’ men still be alive when the final is played at Eden Gardens on April 3, and should they win it, the five defeats they have suffered in eight tests in the past few months will be all but wiped from South Africans’ memories.
That is not how things should be, but is how South Africans tend to regard their teams: they are as good, or as bad, as their most recent performance.
However, a hurdle remains to be cleared before such fantasies can be entertained seriously.
Australia will play three T20s in SA early next month. Only on the evidence of that series will South Africans dare to hope, or not, that it might just rain on their team’s trophy drought at the WT20.
The form book says South Africans will have reasons to be cheerful – Australia have lost four consecutive games in the format to England and India.
But the last team they beat was, that’s right, SA; twice in three matches to win their rubber in Australia in November, 2014.
We are, of course, getting ahead of ourselves. First we need to ask what to do with Quinton de Kock and Dale Steyn, who missed the T20s against England through injury but should be fit to face the Aussies.
They would walk into any T20 team in the game. Except, it seems, SA’s.
How would you make room for De Kock considering AB de Villiers’ inclusion creates another opportunity to follow the fashion for picking as many allrounder as a team can stand?
And why, even if you are trying to bring a great bowler like Steyn back into the mix, would you fiddle with an attack that showed in both T20s against England that they have everything it takes to come out on the right side of an equation that is loaded against bowlers?
After the Wanderers match on Sunday, Du Plessis trotted out the well-worn line that “it’s not a headache, it’s great to have options”.
Not in this case. Russell Domingo made it plain last week that he did not share the conventional view that JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien were on borrowed time.
That leaves Rilee Rossouw or David Miller as favoured victims for the chop. Both could claim that they have not had the opportunities afforded Duminy and Behardien.
Steyn, meanwhile, has been dogged by injury as he approaches the end of his career. He is a liability.
Those are moerse headaches waiting to happen.