Intriguing times – in rugby and cricket

A POPULAR expression in the 50s was deliberately ungrammatical. Remember it, “Telling it like it is”? It meant the telling of events as they really happened: no frills, no exaggerations, no excuses.

The good, the bad and the ugly would have been another way of putting it.

Although South African sports fans had to wait to the very last hours of the weekend, play in the final half-hour of the Cape Town leg of the World Sevens tournament, as Kyle Brown’s Blitzboks revved up play, recalled echoes of the saying as the South Africans finally ran their Argentine opponents off their feet.

In the end Brown’s Blitzboks ran away with it at 29-14 – a score that suggested the young South Africans were... well, just a fraction more than twice as good as their opponents.

Fans in the record crowd of 55 000 at the stadium that lies near the foot of Table Mountain were hoarse with excitement as the Boks took charge in the second period, though the Argentineans clung stubbornly to within two scores of their opponents with some typically brave, often brainy play.

It was a team effort, but in particular players such as Rosco Specman, the Boks first try-scorer after the Pumas had jumped into an early lead; Justin Geduld, who took the Man of the Match award, sprinter Senatlo, with two tries, and the elusive Keslin Kolbe stood out in an exciting team performance.

Then there was the other side of the coin in which “Telling it like it is” was as painful as an emergency visit to the dentist. It concerned our national cricket team, the Proteas, and their recent tour of India.

Now no one in their right mind would have expected South Africa’s senior cricketers to waltz through the recent tour of India unscathed.

The Indians are very serious about their cricket after all.

Indeed, we now know just how serious – they having put the South Africans to the sword to the tune of 3-0. Yes, the same Proteas team, more or less, that very soon will have the newly-arrived England team breathing down their necks.

It’s an England team that is anxious to show who are really top of the heap, despite the current rating by the International Cricket Council of the Proteas as the world No. 1 Test team. Thus lies ahead a fascinating four-match series, starting with the first Test at Durban’s Kingsmead from Boxing Day to December 30.

Make no mistake this is going to be some series – full of intrigue and surprises. For a start take the unusual decision to allow captain, Hashim Amla, to play in a minor game just before the Boxing Day Test. Then there’s the choice of AB de Villiers as wicketkeeper.

Strange, to say the least, specially for a player as important to the Proteas’ cause, with a nagging back injury that refuses to go away. Why not simply persevere with Quinton de Kock? One cannot help but wonder why a player of his ability has not been more sensitively handled. In the long run the Titans youngster’s innate talent surely is bound to pay off?

Well, there you have it . A teasing time lies ahead – whichever way you look at it!

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
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