Proteas unable to escape their cloud of doom

2016-01-21 06:00
 PHOTO: ap  South Africa’s captain, AB de Villiers, looks on during the match presentation on the third day of the third Test against and England at Wanderers stadium.

PHOTO: ap South Africa’s captain, AB de Villiers, looks on during the match presentation on the third day of the third Test against and England at Wanderers stadium.

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“THERE’S something happening here and what it is, is not very clear …” are words to a Crosby, Stills and Nash song which could become a new anthem for the Proteas after the debacle in the third Test against England at the Wanderers at the weekend.

By late Saturday afternoon, the third day of the Test, it was all done and dusted for Alistair Cook and his men who sealed a seven-wicket win and more importantly, a 2-0 series win with one to play, in our own backyard.

There is a cloud of doom over South African cricket and its supporters after the Proteas were blown away for a pathetic 83 on Saturday, leaving England a mere 73 to win after they were bowled out for 323 in their first innings, giving them a 10-run advantage.

Besides winning the toss on Thursday, his batsmen posting a reasonable 313 in their first innings and fast bowling sensation Kagiso Rabada getting his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket (5-78 in 23.1 overs), there was not much else for AB de Villiers to remember his debut as captain for, other than having to face the media and explain what the heck is going down. Besides the usual words such as “disappointed, they were better than us” (obviously) and ensuring the South African cricketing public that there is still much to play for in the final Test at Centurion from January 22 to 26, De Villiers did say, “I feel all hope has gone” and “They gave us a good hammering”.

Stats don’t lie in cricket and those from this Test will forever bear testimony in the annals of the great game that this indeed was a slaughter on the Highveld which hasn’t been seen since the days of the gold rush and Boer War.

But, as captain, De Villiers has to offer hope and string something together to keep us all interested in what is now a dead rubber. “It was the best bowling I had faced in a Test match and England used the conditions well. They asked questions of us, something we failed to do and they never let us get away, applying pressure when it counted,” he said.

“We missed a trick or more in our first innings. All the batsmen enjoyed starts and a 400-plus total on this wicket was definitely on. The bowlers performed well in patches and it boils down to dominating a game from the beginning. England have done what we should have done and wanted to do in the way they have won the series.”

Questions abound about the squad, selection and the future of certain players in the squad. Again, De Villiers, as the leader, stands by his men, while acknowledging it’s not all plain sailing.

“This is definitely a different team to what we have had in the past and produced results with. For a start, there are raw youngsters who have to still learn a lot,” he said. “I have been there and survived. They have to get through this patch, not give up, and become better cricketers for it. Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis — they entered the same realm and refused to be beaten by it.”

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