Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Breaking Sports Hegemony: South Africa - The Cricket Champions

ICC Icon & the South African Team

By Dr. Abdul Ruff


Yes, South African is the masters of world cricket in ODI now and soon they would be overtaking Australians as the world’s topmost cricketers in both versions. Hashim Amla, Graeme Smith, JP Duminy, and AB de Villiers, among others, have greatly contributed to the making of South African top cricket ranking today. That South Africa sealed one-day triumph crushing the world champions Australia after the Test series win is still the major news in cricket world. South Africa is now the ODI world leader overtaking Australia as the world’s top most cricketers in this form by convincingly winning both the third, fourth and final fifth ODIs in Australia against the hosts and now the world champions. As it stands now, South Africans have completed a magnificent Test and one-day double over Australia with an eight-wicket win in Adelaide January 26, 2009 at Adelaide Oval, sealing the series win. The fourth in Adelaide match went on remarkably well, leaving the fifth only to take over from Australia. What is more important is they won an ODI in the capital Sydney (3rd ODI) on January 23, 2009 where as they could not win there in the Tests, failing to overtake the Aussies in the longer cricket version as well. Fourth one-day international in Adelaide sealed victory for Australia. (South Africa 223-2 (38.1 overs) beat Australia 222 in 48 overs) by eight wkts). Even before completing the series, a rebuilding South Africa sealed a series victory over an Australian outfit struggling with the same phase during a dominating performance in Adelaide that earned a 3-1 lead.

In the fourth ODI, The key masters of stroke, Hashim Amla (80) and AB de Villiers (82) and shared an unbroken stand of 144 as the tourists took a 3-1 lead in the one-day series, with one match to play. After losing the toss in Adelaide, the tourists ripped through the Australia batting line-up with Makhaya Ntini (3-52) and Dale Steyn (3-49) on song. Amla and de Villiers stitched together an unseparated 144 runs for the third wicket in 25.5 overs to seal the matter. Amla's crucial unbeaten 80 came off 103 balls with seven fours in it. de Villiers was the more aggressive of the duo and his unbeaten 82 came off 85 balls with six fours and a flat-batted six off David Hussey which also brought up his fifty.

On completing the fifth ODI, SA reached the top rankers of this version. There was no Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher or Dale Steyn, and the bowling attack comprised two left-arm debutants, Tsotsobe and 19-year-old Wayne Parnell. Yet, the South Africans crushed the Aussies by eight wickets in what turned out to be a lopsided floodlit contest to take an invincible 4-1 lead in the five-match series. Opting to bat first, Australia put up yet another sordid batting display and folded up for 222 in 48 overs with only Ricky Ponting (63), James Hopes (42) and Cameron White (30) salvaging some individual reputation with the bat. South Africa’s pace colleagues Makhaya Ntini (3/52) and Dale Steyn (3/49) did an excellent job with the new ball wrecking Australia’s top and middle order.


South Africa's near-perfect tour began with a Test win in Perth and fittingly it finished with a one-day triumph at the same venue as Australia conceded the No. 1 ranking to Johan Botha's men. JP Duminy, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, all of whom contributed to the Test successes, finished the trip strongly and the debutant Lonwabo Tsotsobe picked up four wickets to give the tourists one more happy story to recount on the flight home.

Indeed, it has been a great achievement by the South African team who now have won both the Test and ODI series. A tremendous feat indeed! It has been a great achievement by the South African team who now has won both the Test and ODI series. Another yet more striking character of emerging South African cricket is that even after keeping away their captain & the inspirer Smith, the South Africans could derive the same inspiration and win down the match series both the Test and ODIs.

South Africa followed their Test series win over Australia by replacing them at the top of the one-day rankings, taking the series 4-1 with a 39-run triumph. The chose to bat in Perth and were anchored by a calm 97 from 117 balls by Hashim Amla, who shared 118 in 23 overs with AB de Villers, who made 60 off 71. JP Duminy hit an unbeaten 60 from 42 with three sixes to take them to 288-6. Amla picked up six with a deft upper cut off Ben Hilfenhaus, but Neil McKenzie fell in the first over from James Hopes, also trying to advance down the pitch. It was another resilient performance from the South Africans, and achieved with one of their most inexperienced line-ups.


When South Africa arrived in Australia in December, they fancied their chances in the Tests but felt they still had a lot of improving to do in the shorter format. It's not unusual for holidaymakers to head back to their own country with a fresh perception of the world and that's exactly what South Africa will take home thanks to their 4-1 result and new No. 1 status. South Africa completed a magnificent Test and one-day double over Australia and it would be difficult for Australia to retain the world’s first slot unless it plays better in the next matches. This has been as comprehensive a victory as one could imagine. The South African innings was kickstarted by Gibbs and the work was completed by de Villiers and Amla. Australia looked flat out there with no visible energy on the field.

The visitors have conquered much bigger totals than that this month and there was little to worry about once Gibbs determined to hit as many boundaries as possible. Hashim Amla was stylish as usual in a controlled 80 off 103 balls while AB de Villiers, who had stood in behind the stumps for Mark Boucher, sped towards 82 from 85 after starting calmly. The result came with 71 balls remaining and South Africa hadn't even called for the batting Powerplay. While South Africa’s order has gained confidence, from Herschelle Gibbs at the top to Albie Morkel and Johan Botha towards the bottom, the Australians are in worse shape than when they began. Throughout the series their batting has struggled to build on strong platforms and they wasted another chance on Monday as they dropped from the comfort of 2 for 110 in the 20th over to 222 in the 48th.

South Africa showed how good the pitch was and how bad Australia’s total was as the home side's bowlers suffered as well. At times it looked like a tour game and the international batsmen were trying to out-do each other. Gibbs eased eight boundaries in his 29-ball 38 and Amla maintained a lively pace while finding gaps on both sides of the wicket from the fast men. De Villiers, who swept to a half-century with a four and a six from David Hussey, joined in after Jacques Kallis (13) flicked James Hopes to midwicket and they were 100 in 15 overs.


The tourists arrived last month hoping for some success against the world champions in the Test and one-day formats, but they will leave with commanding victories in each arena after wrapping up this five-match contest before Friday's final fixture in Perth. Australia remained the number one team in both forms of the game followed closely by South Africa and India, both of whom have beaten the Kangaroos in Test series in recent months. In One-dayers, Australia led the table with 126 points, followed by South Africa (123).

Another, the more striking character of South African cricket is that even after keeping their captain the inspirer Smith, the South Africans could derive the same inspiration and win down the match series both the Test and ODIs. The valuable contribution made by Hashim Amla is astounding and note worthy here. Although the Australian bowlers focus on him, Amla managed to score the maximum number of runs. Even n the final ODI at Perth, Hashim Amla scored 97 the maximum.

The cricket matches in Australia has also brought out the best from Hashim Amla. The valuable contribution made by Hashim Amla is astounding and note worthy here. Although the Australian bowlers focus on him, Amla managed to score the maximum number of runs. Even n the final ODI at Perth, Hashim Amla scored 97 the maximum. Amla should be the happiest man of cricket world today. South Africa capped a dream tour of Australia by winning the ODI series in addition to the Test series earlier but the hosts still retained their top spot in both forms of the game despite unmistakable signs that they are on the downslide.

After losing to South Africa, now Australia has already lost the first ODI to New Zealand as well and here the process of fall that started with negative play with India, has already reached a culminating point. Generally, the South Africans have outsmarted the world champions who of late play a sort of “joint cricket exercises” with India and help a few select Indians to score points, including the bowlers, enabling them for national awards and personal benefits. In the third ODI South Africa in Sydney on 23 January outclassed Australia with performances of HH Gibbs 64 from 52 balls and JH Kallis 60 from 72 runs. Perhaps the cricket punished Australia for their callous attitude. The commanding victory, on Australia Day at the picturesque Adelaide Oval, has heaped further problems on Ponting and he is yet to come over them.


South Africa is officially now the team to beat Australia. The final result meant that, should South Africa win the Test series that begins in Johannesburg, South Africa on February 26, they will be the world's No. 1-ranked one-day and Test teams. The positives for Australia in the lead-up to that series are few. All they can take comfort in is that they will enter the contest as the underdogs, with modest expectations. They should play quite seriously and honestly.

The most worried part of cricket world now is not Australia, however but India. India keeps mum when India loses a match and does not even report it in sports columns, but when by chance India manages to win a match or series then the news appears not on the sports pages alone as the top item with funny photos of their cricketers, but even as he major news on the front page that is the ethics Indian has fostered over decades not just in sport, but in politics and other basics too.

When Pakistan and South Africa played India got disillusioned and did not even mention about Pakistan victory. Similarly when Sri Lanka went to Pakistan and played here against Pakistan, initially India did not take notice of that. But as Pakistan was losing Indians got fresh leas of life and their media came to life and reported as the biggest sport event that Sri Lanka won. But India is now facing Sri Lanka and India media portray the Sri Lankan players in shabby manners with ugly photos.

In the same dirty fashion, India always wanted Australia to lose matches and it is known act Australia was bullied by India by making use of latest terror status Indo-US-Australia joint military exercises and made them to underplay and help India cricketer to become eligible for national awards. And finally India even managed to defeat Australia and the India media celebrated that in a “big brandy” way. Indian media’s nefarious designs in the just concluded matches in Australia by South Africa are revealing indeed. Indian media slammed South Africa for trying to defeat Australia and when Australia was finally defeated by the guests form South Africa with Hashim Amla playing a lead role, Indian media could not just digest that at all. That is the Indian sport taste and democratic and “secular mindset” of “great” India and its atrocious media.

These days in the ongoing ODIs between India and Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka have clearly shown that no player could score runs significantly if the bowlers so decide and this fact has been once again proven with the so-called blaster Tendulkar, who made enough wealth and fame and got plenty of awards for excellence from Indian governments, having been removed cheaply three times consecutively in ODIs in Sri Lanka. There was a division of opinion among the top decision makers on the question of bestowing upon him the highest civilian award also on him. Loot at the pathetic quality of excellence in India! It is really poverty of Indian thought process and hidden agendas.

Surely, South Africa must be making all out efforts to become the top order cricket team of the world and would also try to retain that glory for some time, obvioulsy in a dignified manner.

1 comment:

  1. Very Nice Blog.. with my best wishes.



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