Unlikely but you never know

2016-10-05 06:00

YOU CAN become badly confused when you set out to write a column on two very different subjects – even though the one thing they have in common is sport, rugby and cricket in this case, at various international levels.

If you aren’t careful you might even find yourself getting more than a little confused between the two: perhaps saying for example that the Proteas beat Australia 18-10 at the Wanderers in a hard-fought highly physical struggle.

You might even find yourself saying the match was dominated by a stirring return to top-level sport in which Springbok flyhalf, Morné Steyn, scored all the South African team’s points with two dropped goals and four penalties.

Help! Right, let’s start again – get it straight this time. The South African Proteas, in two 50-over ODIs in three days put the touring Australian cricket team in their place, largely through the efforts of Proteas wicketkeeper, Quinton de Kock, who started the first head-to-head with a polished 82, having just the week before seen off a weak attack by a touring Irish side.

In the first ODI against the Australians, the wicketkeeper was again in good form, this time in front of the stumps, as he hit a career-best 178 from just 113 balls to claim the Man of the Match award. He wasn’t in quite the same frame of mind in the second ODI at the Wanderers, collecting just 22 when caught in the deep.

Topping the list, however, on this occasion were JP Duminy (82) and Riley Rossouw (75) to give the Proteas a 2-0 lead in the four-match series. And on present form there aren’t many bookies who would give you better than even-money odds against the Proteas sweeping to a 4-0 result of the series.

The form of the likes of captain Faf du Plessis (top-scorer with 111) and De Kock will be followed to the very last ball – not forgetting youngsters like bowlers Andile Phehlukwayo (just 20) and Kagiso Rabada (21).

And what does one make of this accomplishment without the skills of Hashim Amla after missing the first match of the series due to the birth of a new baby for the Amla family? Perhaps in time there will be more clarity on this – given his usual value to the Proteas.

Switching now to the Momentum Rugby Championship in which the Springboks were generally considered to have been somewhat lucky to scrape to an 18-10 win over the Wallabies.

Was this in fact so? It certainly is a long way from the best Springbok team produced at this level, but it should be taken into account that defensively it largely did well for itself, managing to limit the Wallabies to a single try.

Also the performance by Morné Steyn was of the top order in the sort of game that the cooler-than-ice type this sort of flyhalf is capable of.

Luckily for coach, Allister Coetzee, his gamble with using only two backs among his reserves did not backfire. It might well do so if he risks it again, specially against the All Blacks next week.

Indeed, few give the Boks any chance against the All Blacks next weekend, but who knows? The strangest things have been happening with the Boks lately.

If they keep their heads and play sensibly this might just be the lucky one the Boks pull off.

It isn’t likely though, and Springbok rugby and its coach need to take a long hard look at themselves and more than anything concentrate on getting the basics right.

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