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'South Africa need to learn how to handle success'
Captaincy rows take centre stage in South Africa, while India romp to a facile victory in New Zealand (10:59)
March 23, 2009
The Tony Greig Show
'South Africa need to learn how to handle success'March 23, 2009
South African cricket has done very well to maintain standards, while at the same time seeing to it that previously disadvantaged cricketers have been given a fair go. Recently, against Australia in Australia, they demonstrated just how good they are, but with that success comes expectancy, and it seems South Africa still have a bit to learn when it comes to handling success.
The row over the captaincy is an example of how quickly a happy team can lose it. Anyone who has watched Graeme Smith lead this team will know that Mark Boucher is his right-hand man - indeed Boucher took over when Smith was injured in Durban. Mike Procter and his selectors had to find a temporary replacement for Smith for the Cape Town Test and decided to appoint Ashwell Prince to captain the side and open the batting. They announced this before informing Prince, who told them he didn't want the job. It seems that Prince's logic was that he would prefer to concentrate on his batting, especially after missing the previous five Tests against Australia, initially because of injury and latterly because of the success of the team. They then approached Jacques Kallis, who accepted.
Smith also made it clear that he was not happy with the selectors for dropping Morne Morkel and Neil McKenzie. It seems that Smith has kept the selectors under control, but if he is not hands on, things go wrong. It's one thing being professional on the field. but cricketers have always had to put up with unprofessional administrators. There are exceptions, of course, but not many. South African cricket will continue to confront hurdles; hopefully they will learn from their mistakes.
There has been a big hue and cry over the decision of the English counties to sign Australian cricketers ahead of the Ashes series. Middlesex have signed Philip Hughes and Kent, Stuart Clark, and there may well be more. Over the years counties have argued that having good international cricketers playing for them has helped standards in England. Now England captain Andrew Strauss has joined the growing chorus of those who disapprove. This from Strauss is a little rich as he played in New Zealand after being dropped from the England team. As a result of this he was in form when the England team arrived in New Zealand, and soon got back into the Test side. Strauss was quoted as saying: "There is a bigger picture to consider and I urge all people running counties to realise an England side doing well is of paramount importance if the counties and England are to thrive." Strauss also said that he couldn't imagine Australia doing something similar for English players.
Former England captain Alec Stewart wants a rule brought in which prevents overseas players from playing in England if their team is touring that summer. I seem to recall Stewart spending a fair bit of his time honing his game in Perth. I totally agree with former England fast bowler Angus Fraser. He concedes England's cricketers haven't done very well in Twenty20 cricket, but doesn't anticipate India's BCCI complaining about England's cricketers getting Twenty20 practice in the IPL ahead of the ICC World Twenty20. If I was playing for England I would want to bat against the Aussie bowlers as often as possible before the Tests and to bowl to as many of their batsmen as possible. The problem these days is that contracted England players hardly ever play for their counties.
|"It's one thing being professional on the field but cricketers have always had to put up with unprofessional administrators"|
In the West Indies the attention has shifted to the ODIs, with England trying to salvage a win after a 0-1 defeat in the Tests. Both teams have bad recent records - England suffered a 0-5 battering at the hands of India in November, and West Indies lost their series against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi 0-3, so this is not exactly the battle of the giants as far as ODIs are concerned.
What a finish to the first match. After Shaun Pollock's debacle in Durban I never thought we would witness a team making a mistake again with the Duckworth-Lewis system. England won the match after the disastrous misreading of the regulations by West Indies' coach. John Dyson waved his batsmen in when they were offered the light with 27 needed from 22 balls in Guyana. But Stuart Broad's dismissal of Denesh Ramdin made the difference, as England's total of 270 for 7 gave them a one-run win under the Duckworth-Lewis rules. It's so simple - the system generates a printout of par scores after every ball. This printout is given to both the teams, the umpires, scorers and broadcasters, and because it's resource-based, these scores change after each ball and each wicket. The score on the sheet represents par or tie, so one run must be added for a win. It seems that Dyson didn't take the fall of the wicket into consideration and was therefore looking at the wrong figure altogether. Hence the win to England as opposed to a tie. The hosts finished on 244 for 7 and England's first win of the winter was confirmed after a 10-minute delay; that's how chaotic it all was. The England team's initial confusion at the hosts' decision turned to smiles as their calculations told them they had won the match. England desperately needs a credible performance in this ODI series so that they can start to build some momentum for their Ashes clash this summer at home.
At last India has won a Test in New Zealand - it's hard to believe but it's taken them almost 33 years. Mind you, I wouldn't be getting too excited - let's face it, on paper this Indian team are as good as there is at the moment, and they have in their midst plenty of world-class players, while New Zealand are at best a bunch of serious triers with a sprinkling of class. Sure, it was a convincing win but it was predictable. Had it not been for the incredible partnership between Jesse Ryder and Daniel Vettori, both of whom made first-innings hundreds, the game may have been over in three days. Sachin Tendulkar revels in these situations and his 42nd hundred was predictable, as was Harbhajan's six-wicket haul in the second innings. It's hard to see how New Zealand are going to stop India from making a clean sweep of the series. Perhaps winning the toss, batting first and hoping that Brendon McCullum and Ryder do their stuff with the bat is their best hope. Even if this does happen, the problem of how New Zealand get 20 wickets against this high-class Indian batting line-up remains.
During their history as a Test-playing nation Sri Lanka have had 10 Test captains, all of whom performed with distinction - Bandula Warnapura, Duleep Mendis, DS de Silva, Ranjan Madugalle, Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda de Silva, Hashan Tillakaratne, Sanath Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu and the most recent, Mahela Jayawardene. We are about to see Kumar Sangakkara embark on his reign, and I have no doubt that he will do a great job. Sangakkara is one of the best keeper-batsmen ever and is highly respected as an individual. Having said that, he also has a little of Arjuna in him, in so much as that he is prepared to dish it out when things get heated. The horrific experience the Sri Lankan team endured in Lahore recently will in itself take some getting over and I can think of no one better than the calm Sangakkara to help his players do just that. With a little luck, things will also settle down on the Sri Lankan cricket administration front, because the continued interference of politicians and regular changes in leadership do not help the players. We do know that Sangakkara will listen, but he will not be bullied into anything. He is so good for the game - let's all hope he has a successful run as Sri Lanka's new Test captain.
What's Eating Tony Greig?
We have all been exposed to the umpire-review-system trial, and most critics agree that it needs to be tweaked a little before it should be adopted. There are a few old fuddy-duddies who still think we can do without the involvement of technology but they are just out of touch. It seems to me that the umpires alone must make decisions and I would like to see this tried before we settle on anything. It should not be forgotten that umpires are being exposed because of new technology and we have an obligation to the game to come up with a system that eliminates mistakes. The easy way to do this is to allow the third umpire to jump in when these mistakes are made. It would also help no end if batsmen walked when they nicked the ball, but that is wishful thinking. The older I get, the more I am inclined to think that a batsman who knows he is out and doesn't take it upon himself to walk is cheating.
Question of the Week:
It comes in from Srivatsan Sridharan, who says: It looks as though Ricky Ponting is left with the job of resurrecting the Australian side, which needs quite a bit of work. If Ponting is indeed successful, would you rate him a better captain among peers - and previous Aussie ones - in recent times?
No, Srivatsan, I wouldn't go that far, but if he is successful in keeping Australia at No. 1 then he will have defied many of his critics who thought that once he lost Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, in particular, he would find it difficult to win. Ponting is a fighter and while he may not be quite as good a tactician as some of his predecessors, he has other strengths. His batting, for example, leaves most of his predecessors for dead, and his all-round fielding has been nothing short of sensational. One has to look at the whole Ponting package to measure his true value. I also think we are inclined to dwell too much on captaincy. Take Graeme Smith - not long ago he was considered ordinary, but recently he has emerged as fantastic. A lot depends on the talent the captain has at his disposal
The last show of each month, we have decided to involve some of you who send in questions. We are going to answer a few of those questions, and we are also going to involve a couple of you in a discussion. Perhaps you would like to put yourself up - we may just end up having a chat together. Email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to mention your name and the place where you're from. I will pick the best question and answer it on the show next week. Thanks for your company. This is Tony Greig for Cricinfo Talk signing off.
Mar 1, 2010 Tendulkar's achievement, premature retirements, and why India needs to step up and make big decisions (10:15)
Feb 15, 2010 Why South Africa are likely to leapfrog India in the rankings, and the problem with Twenty20 overkill (10:16)
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