Archie Henderson

Make-or-break for Proteas

2007-04-10 10:38

Archie Henderson

The day South Africa played Bangladesh in the Cricket World Cup, a Johannesburg public print bemoaned the "boredom" in the Proteas camp.

Boredom? In the Caribbean? When you are being paid handsomely to play cricket?

It boggled the brain but it did point to a state of mind in the South African camp.

That night suspicions were confirmed when Bangladesh, a lowly ninth on the International Cricket Council's ranking list, played with the vibrancy and passion sadly lacking in the side ranked number one (and since demoted to second place).

As much as they might deny it, South Africa contributed to own their defeat by complacency and their alleged inertia, but the outcome also had a lot to do with Bangladesh's better exploitation of the slow-paced wicket where their three spinners - each a left-armer but each very different from the other - bowled a combined 29.4 overs and took six for 96 to crack the spine of the Proteas batting.


South Africa had little to offer in return, except the usual pace, and the absence of Andrew Hall left a chasm in the Proteas attack.

Without Hall at the death, Charl Langeveldt and Makhaya Ntini were unable to contain the Bangladeshis, who went on the charge in the last 10 overs.

And unless he does something dramatic in the next three games, Justin Kemp is likely to emerge from this CWC as the most disappointing South African.

Not that he has had much of a chance: he's bowled only eight overs (four of them against the Netherlands, taking two for 18, and three against Ireland).

Against Bangladesh his only over conceded 13 runs and got the Bangladeshis going again after their run rate had slipped to under three an over.


In the eight matches played by South Africa (including the two warm-up games where he did not take part) Kemp has amassed 28 runs. The worst is that, on the turgid surfaces of the Caribbean, he plays with hands made of cast iron when suppleness is required.

Now South Africa's chances of reaching the playoffs rest with a three-team race which includes England and the West Indies.

The crucial game for South Africa looms on Saturday, April 14 when they play New Zealand.

A victory there should inspire them to beat a fragile England, who were not much of a match for Australia at the weekend.

As for the Aussies, they do seem unbeatable and if no one emerges to stop their juggernaut, the 2007 CWC looks to be heading for as predictable and tedious a finale as the one in 2003.

  • Archie Henderson is a former Cape Argus sports editor.

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