Cracking game last night between Sa and NZ - In difficult conditions for batting, I thought both sides did well and would have come out of the game with positives to take in the latter stages. Conditions were clearly bowler friendly, movement through the air and off the deck was on offer and this could be a sign of things to come for future matches at HQ if the prevailing weather forecasts don't undergo any major changes.
I must admit, I am starting to wonder if commentators are even necessary anymore. Or maybe SKY have just decided that for this particular tournament they're not gonna hire anyone half good at it. Jeremy Coney should seriously not be allowed to make a living from calling cricket matches. Bumble needs new material. Kepler Wessels was the only one adding to my viewing pleasure, with comments not always directly related to the pictures I could see for myself, but often aimed at actual analysis of the game and god forbid : Expert Opinion.
A lot was said about SA getting the batting order wrong. Too an extent I agree but with the game being a dead rubber, I agree with Mickey Arthur sending Roelof into the cauldron on a tricky surface. The experience of being in a tight situation like that, whether he made runs or not, will be something he should have learned from, and this bodes well for the latter stages of the tournament should he find himself in a similar position. Herschelle played one of those innings where he looked like he didn't know how to hold the bat - he did this in the IPL too and eventually came good so look out for him. AB was unlucky, the openers did well and JP and Albie did their level best on a difficult surface with no time to play themselves in.
In the fielding and bowling departments SA were their usual clinical selves. The spinners were absolutely world class. Roelof and Botha deserve all the credit they get. On the subject of Roelof though, anyone reading this will know that I campaigned for his inclusion in the RCB team at the start of the IPL. When eventually included, it coincided with a turnaround in RCB's fortunes and they finished as finalists. I am not suggesting vd Merwe was solely responsible for this but I do think he played a role and deserves credit for it. But what's with his attitude lately ? Manly screaming and flexing and spitting and cursing whenever he gets a wicket ? If Roelof wants to be the complete product, he should consider taking a page from Vettori's book in this regard. Celebrate by all means, but a little bit of humility goes a long way. vd Merwe has regularly looked a spoilt brat when misfields occur off his bowling, or when he gets a wicket. His steep rise to the highest level may have caught his testosterone management skills off guard but it's something he will do well to improve on going forward.
During NZ's innings, was I the only person in the world to see that on that wicket, McCullum was only ever gonna score meaningful runs when given width on the off side ? Short lateral boundaries, especially towards the top of the slope were begging to be found. And for the first 10 overs, not a single SA bowler concerned themselves with cramping McCullum for room. As soon as they realised this, they bowled a bit straighter and suffocated the guy, eventually leading to him dancing down the track only to be stumped. McCullum is not a batsmen. HE is an out and out slogger. No difference between him and a guy like vd Merwe. He has a limited repertoire and bowlers are cottoning on to him. Don't give him room on the off side in the first 6 overs and he will struggle to go at more than a run a ball. Its simple. He simply doesn't have the technique to seek runs in other areas if cramped.
Iain O'Brien to me is an enigma. I bracket him with Jeremy Coney in that I find it mind boggling that he can make a living from the game. The guy does a much better blog than me admittedly but he works from a better base with a nicely decked out home on Cricinfo, the top cricket website in the world, bar none. Take that away from him and what skills does he have ? None. The guy can't bowl. He can't bat. He can't field. He is the poor man's Mohammad Sami. Against Scotland the other day he got absolutely hammered, bowling as many as he could into the slot, with no variation in pace. In the interview after that innings, he said he felt that the 'bowling plan' had been effectively executed, but Scotland's batsmen had been up to the task and got the better of them. WTF ? He was bowling to Scotland's top order, not the Windies side of the 80's. There was no Greenidge, Haynes, Lloyd orRichards. Ryan Watson took him for four boundaries in the first over that eventually went for 18, and O'Brien was not used again in the match. "We bowled according to plan, but Scotland were too good on the day" - Bollocks. The bowling was shite and you got carted. For a positive spin, the poor bloke doing the interview had to bring in a reference to Ian's blog, or they would have had nothing to chat about.
"Neil Broom. Right Hand Bat. Favourite shot : The Sweep" - Most Kiwi's still have a sense of humour and that may be why they are so well liked by the neutrals. I did find it a bit disappointing that no commentator pointed out Broom's fielding position during most of the powerplay. He was sweeping on the offside boundary.
Today's cracker, weather permitting will be West Indies vs Sri Lanka. Look for loads of boundaries, lots of excitement and some poor commentary.
Til Next time