Rice, Jennings slam Proteas

Clive Rice (Gallo Images)
Clive Rice (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Two South African cricket legends, Clive Rice and Ray Jennings, have lashed out at the Proteas for not going for the win against India in the first Test at the Wanderers over the weekend.

The South Africans were on course to chase down a record total of 458, needing 16 runs off 19 balls with four wickets in hand.

However, when Faf du Plessis was run out for 134, Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn opted to play for a draw instead of going for the victory.

Rice, who was SA's first captain when they re-entered the international fold after isolation, described the decision as shocking.

"It was nothing less than a choke," he told the Beeld website.

"That's not the way you play cricket when you get in a winning position. I believe if South Africa went for a win and lost the Test in the process, they would have earned a lot more respect for their approach to the game.

"I'm sorry, but if you're the No 1 Test team in the world, then you go for the win in that situation. It's only a team that doubts itself that pulls out and takes the option we eventually took.

"For me it was actually a very bad performance and I didn't even want to watch those last few balls. I was so angry that I left the room.

"I believe a team should at all times have a winning mentality and South Africa did not have that.

"And to say it was the two batsmen's decision to play for a draw, is also ridiculous.

"Where is the team management who should make the decisions? When I was captain my players always knew what I expected of them and what our plan was.

"Therefore, if that was the case, then team management and the captain should be hauled over the coals.

"In the end it was a very good effort to draw, but when it comes to striving for victory, it was ridiculously poor," said Rice.

Jennings, a former Proteas coach and Transvaal team-mate of Rice, also felt it was a choke.

"In a situation like that, you expect a lot better from the best Test team in the world. I'm struggling to understand where the decision to shut up shop came from.

"It was said that (Vernon) Philander and (Dale) Steyn made the decision, but I believe it came from the change room," said Jennings.

With the series level at 0-0, the second and final Test starts in Durban on Thursday.

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