Proteas 0, Suits -1

Sunday Times


TELFORD VICE, Cape Town

IN the wake of events in Providence on Friday night the suits should get down on their pinstriped knees and beg the review panel to reform and start finding out what the hell is going on with the national team.

Even if the panel hadn’t thrown up their hands in frustration and called it quits this week they wouldn’t be able to lance the boil before AB de Villiers has to lead his dear friends once more unto the breach against the mighty Australians at the same venue on Tuesday.

But this team deserve better than all of Cricket SA’s (CSA) horses and all of CSA’s men standing around unable to put Humpty back together again.

If you decided to open a bottle of the good stuff on Friday night rather than the can of whip-ass the Windies unleashed on SA, here’s what went down in the opening match of the triseries …

Sunil Narine, back from seven months of mending his action enough to satisfy the bowling police, took 6/27 – the best return by a West Indian in a one-day international against SA and the best by a Windies spinner against anyone.

Narine was helped by a pitch of petrified quicksand into which balls and batsmen both disappeared like the ancient fossil record.

SA’s top five all reached 20 and no-one in the bottom six made it to 10. The last seven wickets tumbled for 28 runs and the scoreboard stuck at 188. Only 63 times in their other 552 ODIs have SA been dismissed for fewer than 200. That’s less than 12%.

Rilee Rossouw alone showed the balls to guts it out and was rewarded with an unlovely but admirable 61.

“Definitely, in the last 10 to 12 overs with the bat in hand we lost our way,” De Villiers said. “I thought we set it up exceptionally well and the communication was that 220-plus would be a winning score.

“The positive is that our assessment was good. Unfortunately the execution wasn’t spot on.”

Kieron Pollard’s execution was spot on and then some. He heaved a sweaty 67 not out into Guyana’s humid night sky, launching three of his six sixes off the first five balls he faced. Funny how he wasn’t undone by the conditions despite not having played a match of any description on home soil since November 2015.

Between them, Imran Tahir, Aaron Phangiso and JP Duminy took as many wickets as Narine. They also conceded 66 more runs.

“We knew it was going to be a turning track, very slow,” De Villiers said. “That’s why we played the extra spinner. Our balance looked the same as the West Indies team. We got all of that right.

“There’s nothing the bowlers could have done more; maybe one or two half-chances could have gone our way. But it’s with the bat that we cost ourselves.”

Now what?

“There’s still a long way to go in the tournament. This is not the time to be thinking about going more aggressively – trying to get a bonus point, stuff like that.”

He’s right. It’s too soon to panic. Unless you’re a suit.

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