TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
SOUTH Africans still agonising over their team’s failure to reach the triseries final in Bridgetown on Sunday will be fixated on two events in the match that sealed that fate – SA’s loss to West Indies on Friday.
In the 11th over Darren Bravo miscued an attempt to put Morne Morkel over the long leg ropes and should have been caught by Wayne Parnell, who palmed the ball over the boundary for six.
West Indies were 40/4 at that stage and Bravo was 11 not out. He went on to score 102 and, largely because of a fifth-wicket stand of 156 between Bravo and Kieron Pollard that Parnell could have snuffed out for 19, the Windies posted a total of 285.
Had that catch been taken would much have changed about Friday’s game? Yes. But catches will be dropped.
Parnell’s error was costly but it was not the kind of catastrophe that sinks a team who have reduced their opponents to 21/4, as SA had.
A better question is why Morkel was bowling in the first place. He was brought on in the ninth over to replace Kagiso Rabada, who had taken 3/10 in four overs.
In ripping rhythm from the outset, Rabada had Johnson Charles caught at second slip and sent stumps flying to remove Marlon Samuels and Denesh Ramdin.
What was AB de Villiers thinking when he decided to pulled his best bowler away from the jugular?
“‘KG’ is a fit man, so maybe (he should have been given) one more over,” De Villiers told reporters in Bridgetown on Friday. “I thought we had four world class seam bowlers in the attack; enough guys who can ask questions.
“You’ve got to give credit to the two batsmen who played pretty well. A chance was created. It wasn’t taken unfortunately.
“But after ‘KG’’s spell I did try pretty much everything we had. Unfortunately we couldn’t get that breakthrough.
“Now that you mention it, perhaps I could have bowled him for a few more overs. But you’ve also got to think of the rest of the game and not bowl your best bowler out in the first spell.”
Hugh Page captained in 23 of the 290 matches he played. What would he have done with a quick who was as deadly as Rabada was on Friday?
“Hindsight is easy, but especially with a guy like Rabada I might have been inclined to give him another two overs,” Page said.
“Hopefully he knocks over another two. If that happens you give him another over and leave him three at the death.
“I would have thought that, if you’ve got them four down for as few as that, generally the game is over. It’s like a boxer having a guy on the ropes.
“After four overs Rabada would have been fresh and probably would have been capable of finishing them off.”
But De Villiers’ decision was only half of the equation.
“It’s easy to blame the captain but if I was the bowler I would have asked for another two overs,” Page said.
Who knows whether Rabada did. He is a confident man but he is still only 21 and Friday’s match was just his 42nd in a SA shirt of any description.
De Villiers is 11 years his senior, has played 383 games for SA, and is the man with whom the bucks stops.
The captain didn’t pass that buck on Friday. But it did elude him.