In & Out: Chasing tail amid massive De Kock-ups

2015-03-08 15:00

In his 1961 novel, Tropic of Capricorn, author Henry Miller writes: “People regarded me as lazy and shiftless, but on the contrary, I was an exceedingly active individual. Even if it was just hunting for a piece of tail, that was something, and well worthwhile ...”

When watching the Proteas either defend a mammoth total, such as the 411 they scored against Ireland on Tuesday; or try to chase down a modest score, such as the one we saw their bowlers skilfully restrict Pakistan to yesterday, there always seems to be a certain shiftlessness at either end.

After scoring the second-highest total in World Cup history against Ireland or edging past the 408 they set a few days before against the Windies, it was almost cringeworthy watching the Proteas’ bowling attack trying to rip through the opposition tail.

When Ireland were 48/5 in the 11th over, AB de Villiers’ men were set to romp home to the highest margin of victory in World Cups.

Like a cat toying with a mouse, the South Africans would not end the game until the 45th over and 152 runs later. The tail wagged and the bowlers impotently watched it sway from side to side.

Then yesterday, the bowlers came to the party. They bowled Pakistan out in under 47 overs to set up a modest chase of 232 (D/L), and gave their batsmen the opportunity to display the level of maturity necessary to make a real impact in a World Cup. The “total performance” was on.

That’s what their admiring fans must have thought, until the beginning of the second innings anyway.

But another DeKock-up at the top of the order gave further credence to the notion that young Quinny should be dropped if the Proteas are to enjoy the security of a solid opening pair of, say, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis.

But Hash and the Rock soon fell after an impressive start and when Rilee Rossouw lofted his wicket to third man and David Miller was out LBW, the Proteas were staring down the barrel at 77/5. A few more wickets fell and it became a matter of desperate survival. Gone were any hopes of solidity as it was left to captain AB de Villiers to show his team that being an “active individual” is indeed worthwhile.

But even AB’s heroics weren’t enough and the Proteas lost by 29 runs. They are still in qualification limbo with one group match against the United Arab Emirates to come.

Whether they’re following up a world-class batting display with lacklustre bowling or collapsing in a top-order heap, you can count on some form of catastrophe to conspire to keep the Proteas on the fringes of ecstasy. When it’s crunch time, they’re just too coy to accept the invitation for a nightcap and the titillating prospect of glory.

@Longbottom_69 is an armchair cricket critic. Thanks to the Proteas, he’s come to realise once more that, in cricket, a victory by 29 runs is as good as one by 201

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