TELFORD VICE in London
SOUTH Africa needed to be strong and stable in their Champions Trophy match against India at The Oval on Sunday.
Instead, they were a coalition of chaos and lost by eight wickets, which eliminated them from the race for a place in the semi-finals.
Panicky running between the wickets led to the dismissals of AB de Villiers and David Miller in the space of six balls, and South Africa’s last eight wickets crashed for 51 runs.
If something seems familiar about all that, it’s not only that South Africa invariably play below themselves at tournaments.
It’s also that “strong and stable” leadership was what Theresa May said the Conservative Party could give the United Kingdom during her campaign for Thursday’s general election.
A “coalition of chaos” was what she said awaited the country should Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party be elected to govern.
The joke, of course, is on May.
The support for her party was neither strong nor stable enough for the Tories to win a majority, and to be able to form a government they are going to have to go into a coalition of sorts with the Democratic Unionist Party — denizens of the dark ages from Northern Ireland who oppose the right of women to decide what happens to their own bodies, and want to use gender profiling to determine who should be permitted to marry whom.
Chaos surely awaits the UK with mournful May and the meddling muppets in charge.
What does that have to do with South Africa’s woeful tournament record?
In the same way the Tories seem determined to hang onto May as leader, South Africa seem set on retaining De Villiers as captain despite the team’s inability to win the 2012 World T20, the 2013 Champions Trophy, the 2015 World Cup and now the 2017 Champions Trophy with him at the helm.
De Villiers is easily as accomplished a batsman as May is a standard-bearer for soulless politicians.
But is he in the same league as a captain as he is as a player?
“I think he’s done a fantastic job as captain during this campaign,” Russell Domingo said.
“He leads from the front.
“I know there’s been a lot of criticism about his leadership.
“A lot of it takes place behind closed doors, so what people see on the field they will create their impressions from that.
“But the team and management all think he’s done a wonderful job behind closed doors, in the preparation and lead-up to games.
“There’s a lot more that goes on than just making a bowling change.
“People can question his tactics, but there is more than one way to skin a cat.
“There is no right and wrong way in cricket.
“He’s got to go with what he feels are the best decisions on the field and he’s got to commit to that and that’s what he does.”
De Villiers will have another crack at captaincy in the T20 series against England that starts next Wednesday because Faf du Plessis will be away attending the birth of his and his wife Imari’s first child.
Then De Villiers will take his leave because — like he did in South Africa’s series in New Zealand in March and will do so again against Bangladesh in the home summer — he has opted out of the test series against England.
How could that not sow division in the dressingroom?
“A lot of players have given up a certain format to focus on another one and that’s their choice,” Domingo said.
“By no means can we force players to play every single format.
“You’ve obviously got to pay them according to what they’re contributing in the particular formats and that’s what has happened.
“If he wants to just play one-dayers and T20s then that’s a decision he’s got to live with and a decision he’s got to make.
“You can’t force players to play every format if they are not committed.”
De Villiers has had to weigh his commitment to the cause against the cash he can collect playing for throwaway teams like Royal Challengers Bangladesh.
And cash is king – for most people, anyway.
But De Villiers needs to be careful, for he is toying with his already established greatness.
If he delivers much more of what we have seen in the past month, in which time South Africa have also lost an ODI series in England, all his brilliance will mean little.
He will, like May, be remembered as a failure.