Capt Courageous leads the way

2016-02-17 06:00

ONE excited woman spectator at Newlands in Cape Town last weekend held up a huge poster with just two words... well, not even proper words but it said it all. The writing in huge red capitals on a piece of cardboard simply said: “AB BABY”.

But that said it all, captured the feeling of the home town crowd at the end of a specially nerve-wracking day.

With the crowd around her joining in her excitement, the message spoke volumes for the utter joy it expressed.

A fight back from 0-2 down in the series to a brave and finally heart-warming victory by three matches to two, showed that South African cricket, despite a poor show against England in the Test series, was not as badly off as many of its supporters had feared.

Hats off to England they didn’t have it all their own way, losing early wickets after losing the toss and being send in to bat first.

The smiles on the faces of A B de Villiers and his team at the post match presentation and interviews said it all... if the lads in green and gold had smiled any wider they would surely have wound up with cracked lips.

Could De Villiers’ team do what they had done twice before in the series as, after several hiccups, they crept back into the fray in the way they had done earlier in the previous two matches of the series? As well as they had done in the two previous encounters it seemed unlikely, especially after star opening batsman Hales had defied all the efforts – good and bad – that the Proteas’ attack had launched at him. His 112 was as fine an innings as any that one had seen from the classy batsman.

But somehow, against all odds, AB and his brave warriors hung in – the captain himself contributing a determined, delightful century (101 not out) and receiving, let’s not forget, a solid 59 backing up from teammate Hashim Amla. There are few cricketers as calm and collected normally as Amla but even he eventually cracked with a wild swing at England spinner Moeen Ali that presented England with a gift wicket.

Earlier Faf du Plessis had gone for a “duck” and when Rossouw followed with just four, things looked really bleak. No one could have said it more eloquently than the captain himself. At the presentation De Villiers said, a tint tremble in his voice: “It was a close series. They had us under pressure for all five games.”

But he added proudly: “The difference was the hunger. We were just a little hungrier than them. We had to keep believing, to keep that hunger. We didn’t lose that belief.”

For a long time things hadn’t looked good. But then “Captain Courageous” came along. That was the moment that changed everything.

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