South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Centurion, 4th day February 15, 2014

Standing in the shadows of giants

Without the coach who took them to No. 1 and the allrounder who made them great, South Africa are trying to surf into a tidal wave
49

When David Warner was dropped for the second time, it became clear there was something really wrong with this South Africa team. Morne Morkel came in, unlike many times when he simply almost came in, and the ball took off one of this Centurion pitch's many uneven parts and Warner cut hard at a ball that was flying upwards. The edge went very quick, and kept going up, in the direction of second slip.

It was a hard catch, and it went down.

Second slip is where Jacques Kallis stood during the last three decades.

****

Ryan McLaren and Graeme Smith were quite clear that the reason South Africa chose to bowl first was because of history and statistics. Michael Clarke thought the pitch might play up for a session, then even out after lunch. Australia lost three wickets before lunch, one after lunch. Sometimes you can look at the numbers and read them exactly right, and still be wrong.

Smith would have made this decision in conjunction with the stats-loving Russell Domingo.

Domingo is sitting in the chair that Gary Kirsten used to sit in as South Africa's head coach.

****

Old-school cricket wisdom, the sort that leans on bars and tells you why the youngster won't make any runs against a real attack, tells you that how a side acts in the field shows where they are mentally. Well, South Africa acted like a side that didn't believe in themselves. They fielded like a side without hope. And they did it on day one, before they truly felt the power of Mitchell Johnson.

They held most of their catches that day. But they fumbled almost everything else. Morkel moved around the field terribly slowly, except for the moment he hit the ground incredibly slowly. Hashim Amla walked past a ball in the outfield. There were overthrows. And if they had a plan, Smith's captaincy did everything they could to hide it.

By day three, when they had already been Johnsoned, they added dropping multiple catches to the overall act.

They did all of it without a fielding coach. Mike Young, fielding coach under Kirsten, was gone (to Australia), and had not been replaced. The former conditioning coach, Rob Walter, was also heavily involved in preparations for fielding but he is now the Titans coach.

There are many who think there are too many people around a cricket team as there is. But surely in modern cricket, fielding is a part of the game that needs a full-time person in charge of it. And it might be too simple to say that South Africa only fielded that way because they didn't have a fielding coach.

But surely it couldn't hurt.

****

South Africa love allrounders. They love them more than any other country, and they provide more than any other country. And in Kallis they lost a king

India turned up with a new team in South Africa. They played like young men trying to make a point. Their batting line-up looked like something that will haunt people for the next ten years. And they handled the South African attack well, although often not all at once. Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, M Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane all played top knocks. They went very close to winning the first Test (and then losing it). In the second Test, India made 334 in the first innings. South Africa made 500. Kallis made 115. South Africa won the Test, and the series.

Had Kallis not played in that series, it is possible that South Africa would have lost that Test.

Against Pakistan in the UAE, South Africa lost the first Test and won the second, drawing the series against a team ranked well below them. Kallis took no wickets and made 12 runs in that series. It was the first Test series that Kirsten was not coach for. Domingo had not started brilliantly.

****

The only thing faster than Mitchell Johnson at the moment is the speed at which sides start to do emergency introspection after he has bashed them. There is something about playing Australia (and by that I mostly mean Mitchell Johnson) that strips every part of your game to the bone. If South Africa were going to play any opposition after Kallis retired, Australia was certainly the worst choice.

South Africa love allrounders. They love them more than any other country, and they provide more than any other country. And they lost a king.

But they couldn't replace him with a king. Sure they could have tried someone like Obus Pinaar, to see if he was the next chosen one (a double-century in first-class cricket and a bowling average of 24.16 bowling left-arm quick). But they didn't take the chance with him.

Instead they replaced Kallis with two allrounders: McLaren at No. 7, Robin Peterson at No. 8. Two players who have done all they can to get the most out of themselves, who can provide in many different ways. But they aren't proper Test allrounders. Peterson is not strong enough to bat at No. 7 consistently and in 15 Tests he has taken 38 wickets at 37.26. McLaren has only three first-class hundreds from 100 matches. He has bowling talent, but he is not in the best five seam bowlers in South Africa.

They are both band-aids over the open Kallis wound. Carrying a partially covered wound is not the way to play Mitchell Johnson.

McLaren batted at No. 7 against Australia, Faf du Plessis batted there against India. In this Test, du Plessis moved up to No. 4 - the Kallis spot.

****

Gary Kirsten was a tough son-of-a-bitch cricketer who put as high a price on his wicket as almost any before him for over 100 Tests. He scored 188 not out in a World Cup game. He coached India to the top of the Test Test rankings and helped them win a World Cup. He was a South African playing legend and a winning coach. He was tough, and smart. It would have taken a real maverick, or someone properly stupid, to not listen or follow his advice. He took on the batting coaching himself, as he had done when working with MS, Virender, Rahul and Sachin.

The man who replaced him doesn't even have a Wikipedia page, and his name is spelt incorrectly on the South Africa cricket team Wikipedia page.

Domingo was the man who gave Kirsten his first coaching job. He has a good record in domestic cricket, helping the Warriors to limited-overs glory and also a runners-up finish in the Champions League. But he wasn't a first-class player. He is a career coach. And he has taken over the best group of cricketers on the planet.

Domingo is friendly and personable. Few have a bad word to say about him. But just because he was groomed by Kirsten doesn't mean he is going to have the same impact. Grooming coaches can go horribly wrong. As an assistant you are a shoulder to cry on, a man of responsibility, but not the man. And it can be hard for everyone to start thinking that way about you. Especially if you're not the barking type, and the captain is a long-standing leader and legend.

Then there is the basic resentment towards coaches that cricket has. The young players might be used to having them around. But many ex-players still don't trust most coaches, and they certainly don't trust coaches who haven't played at the highest level.

So all Domingo has to overcome is being a non-playing coach who was groomed to replace a legend while ex-players sharpen their swords and whilst being deprived of the most important player his country has ever produced.

****

It was Domingo who recently stated that Kallis' maturity; calmness and presence will be missed in his retirement. It was maturity and calmness that could have helped when Johnson almost tore Smith's head off in the first innings in Centurion.

When Australia made the (very brief) world record score in that eventful ODI at the Wanderers, it was Kallis who joked that Australia's score was under par to lighten the mood.

A joke like that, from a man like Kallis, could do wonders.

Also the stern nature of Kirsten might have come in handy as session after session South Africa came off having fielded like the game was new to them. Kirsten got on well with senior players but wasn't afraid to set clear boundaries and demanded the best from his players. While he was there, they often played exactly as he asked them to.

****

Ryan McLaren took a rocket to the side of the head. He turned from the crease and did a slow walk and kneeled as people came from everywhere to see if he was okay. Even with a helmet, it looked like brutal treatment. Without a helmet it would have resulted in much more than a small trickle of blood. He faced up to the next ball and played it well. After tea he faced some more short balls. This time all he could do was find some glove through to the keeper.

There is little coaching you can do to play Johnson. According to AB de Villiers, you have to be willing to take some on the body. McLaren went one better. But he is a tall man with a first-class average of 30.26; right now, to Johnson, that is chum. Peterson decided to just swing away, trying to confuse Johnson.

There is no coaching technique or advice from a legend that can help you through that.

****

Russell Domingo now has a 2-2 record from five Tests with the world's best team (at least statistically) playing for him. He is playing two more Tests against a team with the seeming ability to burp magic rainbows on demand. If he pulls this off, and turns his team around by surfing into the tidal wave, he might be on his way to legendary status.

Right now, he looks very much like he is standing with a clipboard armed with stats, history and two average allrounders in the shadow of two giants, and doing all of it against a fire-breathing wyvern armed with nuclear weapons.

Jarrod Kimber was 50% of the Two Chucks, and is the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Proteas-13thman on February 18, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    Jarrod you are preying on the public to blame somebody~! Russel is the new face of cricket~! Stats help and will continue to help. Australia thumped england 5 -0 with lots of cricket whilst south africa played against a weak bowling attach from inda , had 5 weeks of almost no cricket. They were soft while the ozzies were on fire. poor selection and one wrong decision should end a good coaches career. Domingo is the way forward the ONLY things you got correct was 1 - kallis cant be replaced by two weak alrrounders and 2~!!!! Domingo's best role should be the asisstant coach and not the coach or man as you put it. BUT HE SHOULD STAY

  • TommytuckerSaffa on February 18, 2014, 5:10 GMT

    Domingo is a joke. And if he is armed with stats and a clipboard then he clearly is not using it as many of the best players in the country are not even chosen in the Test squad.

  • Vishnu27 on February 17, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    vallavarayar: we are!!! Thanks! Seeing as you have the crystal ball: when will it end? I see no reason for it things to change in a hurry. MJ has his groove firmly on. He is supremely fit & strong. Australia has a coach that the players love to play for & respect completely. Things are starting to click again for Australia. I say: look out. More of the same coming, for the foreseeable. There is a battery of fast young Australian quicks eager to take their chance when it presents...

  • mondotv on February 17, 2014, 1:47 GMT

    Jarrod's point isn't that Domingo isn't a good coach but that combined with all the other factors he may not have been the ideal choice right now. It is sort of 1st class rather than Test thinking to imagine that 3 all rounders are better than an all rounder, a specialist batsman and a specialist bowler. That works against lesser attacks but against a test quality attack it can come unstuck. On the other hand if you have test quality batsman who can bowl a bit that works. Is Duminy in that class - well he certainly looked the real deal when I first saw him in Australia. And sure in this Test match he looked uncomfortable against Johnson but even AB did at times. he certainly couldn't bat in the top 4 but he looks a good 6. My problem with R. Peterson is that he is neither a batting or bowling all-rounder - his (non) spin isn't going to worry many teams and I haven't seen enough of his batting but it looked a bit like Swann facing MJ. Not in a hurry to get in line.

  • LeeHallam on February 16, 2014, 22:05 GMT

    Perhaps this result is down in part to a decline in South Africa, whether through a change in the coach and the loss of a truly great player. We know that England's performance was in part due to a coach who had stayed a little too long, and the loss of a key batsman (Trott) and bowler (Swann). However it cannot be a coincidence that that both events happened against an Australian side riding the coat tails of an extraordinary run of form from a left arm fast bowler. Much as it pains me to say it, Well Done Mitchell Johnson!

  • Number_5 on February 16, 2014, 21:52 GMT

    It does appear SAF are not copping with the transition from old to new coach or the loss of one of, if not the greatest all rounders the game has seen. Aus too suffered through the loss of good players. Combined with the foolish decision to send the opposition in (especially when your Number 1 quick is not 100%) AND give little respect to a bowling line up fresh from humiliating the former World Number 1 team they look completely unprepared, someone must be accountable for this. The cracks looked to be there against India and will only be blown apart by this Australian team. Very hard to see them coming back from here.

  • Beertjie on February 16, 2014, 16:11 GMT

    @ARUP1962 on (February 16, 2014, 8:31 GMT) It's not the speed or the so- called heavy ball. It's primarily the angles at which he get's the ball to lift off the pitch. Not surprising that he perfected this after himself adopting the Barmy Army's ditty to gee himself up. His is the come-back of this century, I'll wager.

  • nareshgb1 on February 16, 2014, 15:29 GMT

    yeah yeah - bring back Jacques. Mitch will ping him anywhere he wants to.

  • vallavarayar on February 16, 2014, 14:52 GMT

    Enjoy it while you can peeps. The Mitch storm won't last forever.

  • DC75 on February 16, 2014, 13:55 GMT

    @jollybouy, what do you expect Dhoni to say - I want green pitches so that the visiting fast bowlers can take 20 indian wickets cheaply?

  • Proteas-13thman on February 18, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    Jarrod you are preying on the public to blame somebody~! Russel is the new face of cricket~! Stats help and will continue to help. Australia thumped england 5 -0 with lots of cricket whilst south africa played against a weak bowling attach from inda , had 5 weeks of almost no cricket. They were soft while the ozzies were on fire. poor selection and one wrong decision should end a good coaches career. Domingo is the way forward the ONLY things you got correct was 1 - kallis cant be replaced by two weak alrrounders and 2~!!!! Domingo's best role should be the asisstant coach and not the coach or man as you put it. BUT HE SHOULD STAY

  • TommytuckerSaffa on February 18, 2014, 5:10 GMT

    Domingo is a joke. And if he is armed with stats and a clipboard then he clearly is not using it as many of the best players in the country are not even chosen in the Test squad.

  • Vishnu27 on February 17, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    vallavarayar: we are!!! Thanks! Seeing as you have the crystal ball: when will it end? I see no reason for it things to change in a hurry. MJ has his groove firmly on. He is supremely fit & strong. Australia has a coach that the players love to play for & respect completely. Things are starting to click again for Australia. I say: look out. More of the same coming, for the foreseeable. There is a battery of fast young Australian quicks eager to take their chance when it presents...

  • mondotv on February 17, 2014, 1:47 GMT

    Jarrod's point isn't that Domingo isn't a good coach but that combined with all the other factors he may not have been the ideal choice right now. It is sort of 1st class rather than Test thinking to imagine that 3 all rounders are better than an all rounder, a specialist batsman and a specialist bowler. That works against lesser attacks but against a test quality attack it can come unstuck. On the other hand if you have test quality batsman who can bowl a bit that works. Is Duminy in that class - well he certainly looked the real deal when I first saw him in Australia. And sure in this Test match he looked uncomfortable against Johnson but even AB did at times. he certainly couldn't bat in the top 4 but he looks a good 6. My problem with R. Peterson is that he is neither a batting or bowling all-rounder - his (non) spin isn't going to worry many teams and I haven't seen enough of his batting but it looked a bit like Swann facing MJ. Not in a hurry to get in line.

  • LeeHallam on February 16, 2014, 22:05 GMT

    Perhaps this result is down in part to a decline in South Africa, whether through a change in the coach and the loss of a truly great player. We know that England's performance was in part due to a coach who had stayed a little too long, and the loss of a key batsman (Trott) and bowler (Swann). However it cannot be a coincidence that that both events happened against an Australian side riding the coat tails of an extraordinary run of form from a left arm fast bowler. Much as it pains me to say it, Well Done Mitchell Johnson!

  • Number_5 on February 16, 2014, 21:52 GMT

    It does appear SAF are not copping with the transition from old to new coach or the loss of one of, if not the greatest all rounders the game has seen. Aus too suffered through the loss of good players. Combined with the foolish decision to send the opposition in (especially when your Number 1 quick is not 100%) AND give little respect to a bowling line up fresh from humiliating the former World Number 1 team they look completely unprepared, someone must be accountable for this. The cracks looked to be there against India and will only be blown apart by this Australian team. Very hard to see them coming back from here.

  • Beertjie on February 16, 2014, 16:11 GMT

    @ARUP1962 on (February 16, 2014, 8:31 GMT) It's not the speed or the so- called heavy ball. It's primarily the angles at which he get's the ball to lift off the pitch. Not surprising that he perfected this after himself adopting the Barmy Army's ditty to gee himself up. His is the come-back of this century, I'll wager.

  • nareshgb1 on February 16, 2014, 15:29 GMT

    yeah yeah - bring back Jacques. Mitch will ping him anywhere he wants to.

  • vallavarayar on February 16, 2014, 14:52 GMT

    Enjoy it while you can peeps. The Mitch storm won't last forever.

  • DC75 on February 16, 2014, 13:55 GMT

    @jollybouy, what do you expect Dhoni to say - I want green pitches so that the visiting fast bowlers can take 20 indian wickets cheaply?

  • balajik2505 on February 16, 2014, 12:44 GMT

    To suggest Kallis retired out of fear is ridiculous. Nobody can go on forever. It is time others learned to cope. Johnson is a throwback to the 70's and 80's. Batsmen learnt to cope then, they should learn now. Actually it is relatively easier, considering that batsmen are better protected now. Maybe we may see the revival of the tearaway fast bowler. McGrath's success spawned a lot of bowlers who would bowl fast medium. Johnson's success may revive the red hot quicks. About time too. Changes in laws, pitches has made cricket less exciting. Maybe the ICC should look to make conditions more favourable for the bowler. It took until 1987 for the 1st man to score 10000 test runs. In the next 25 years, quite a few batsmen have joined the list.

  • steve48 on February 16, 2014, 12:36 GMT

    @modernumpiresplz, firstly, like your username! Secondly, agree with everything you said about England, except perhaps that maybe in addition to his bowling travails, Swanny didn't appear to relish MJ's bombardment at all! Really just re emphasizing my earlier point about the pointlessness of picking players cos they are handy lower order batsmen against extreme pace. Swann played some key counterattacking knocks for us, including in the ashes in England. The folly of picking McLaren and Robbie P was very predictable. Obviously that's not why we picked Swann, by the way!

  • OneEyedAussie on February 16, 2014, 10:59 GMT

    So Smith decided to bowl first based on a computer print out. Fine, I guess. But if he knows the stats then he would have known not to expect over 200 in the fourth innings - which means he needed a first innings lead. Fair enough, he has the two worlds best bowlers and two of the worlds best batsmen. Oh wait, worlds best bowler is coming back from a serious injury and has fallen ill. And it looks like the pitch maybe will flatten out later in the day rendering our dobber medium pacer pretty much useless. I hope our two bits-and-pieces spinners can hold up an end and help us catch up on the over rate. Oh well, we're only playing Australia, right....

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 16, 2014, 10:29 GMT

    @Sir_Francis What I really wonder about now is if England will reconsider the massive knee jerk reaction they had to the recent ashes series. KP was their best batsman in terms of average on the tour and they dropped him. They got rid of Flower. The only thing unrelated to Johnson was the retirement of Swann, but I think the KP debacle is the biggest mistake in English cricket for a while. Cook was so much worse than KP and yet he retained his captaincy. If (and I reiterate IF, as I have not ruled SA out) Australia can keep up these performances for the 3 tests against SA, I wonder if the scapegoat requirement after that tour will bite England in the ass for a few more years to come.

  • Sir_Francis on February 16, 2014, 9:42 GMT

    Is it fair to blame Domingo for this? Maybe Australia might just be the better team.

  • ARUP1962 on February 16, 2014, 8:31 GMT

    The only reason the South Africans are dropping catches is that they are only dreaming about Mitch Johnson. The faster they get out of this syndrome the better for them. Come on South Africa. Johnson is not the fastest bowler in Test history. There have been faster men and you have played much better bowlers than him. You can do it. We want you to fight back because you are the No. 1 side in the World.

  • stormy16 on February 16, 2014, 8:24 GMT

    Not sure how this read had led to doctored pitches. As for Kallis, yes it was always going to be a massive hole that SA should NOT try to fill as it simply cannot be. The Mclaren decision tells me they are trying to fill that hole and presume that the first test showed enough evidence that it wont work. You need to have 7 batters, its a formular that works for test cricket for many years. If amongst the 7 you happen to have a bowler that just a bonus but once you start to look to "fit" an alrounder by dropping a batter your playing with fire. Against weaker team this may work as its unlikely the opposition bowlers will test the full strenght of the batting but against decent bowling attacks 7 batters is a must. I think SA also underestimated the Johnson factor after all how many times has a fast bowler come and scared the daylights out of SA? Johnson I am afraid offers something like nothing before and SA need to have a plan for him as he can blow them away.

  • C.Gull on February 16, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    C'mon fellas. The "three decades" are the nineties, the noughties and the teens.

  • Jollybuoy on February 16, 2014, 7:22 GMT

    I don't even know what some ppl watch for cricket when they say the pitches are doctored in Australia. The only pitch I ever remember seeing which can said to be doctored was the green pitch in Melbourne for Ashes 2010/11. It was green and moist and OZ lost the toss and got bundled for 98. Every other pitch was well within the variations of what you expect from a ground. Some pitches in India are doctored, like the turners against SA in Kanpur in 2008, Pitches for tests in Hyderbad against NZ. Even if a pitch is doctored, I consider it good if it can provide even contest between bat and ball. Pitch in Chennai is an example. Unless you do some selective watering,you will either see raging turner or boring draw. Dhoni even criticised the most perfect of cricket pitches in Bangalore against NZ which had something for everyone saying it wasn't turning.

  • milepost on February 16, 2014, 6:58 GMT

    Wow, the 3-0 predictions by informed cricket followers are looking ever more likely now. Australia are peerless,

  • on February 16, 2014, 6:48 GMT

    @moderumpiresplz probably wise that MCG was made a drop in surface.The surface an absolute shamble. Low ,slow ,inconsistent .The way it played in 80s and early 90s ,it was pathetic.Gabba though has steadily quickened over 50 years, was it relaid in 95 before Pakistan series?because it didnt have the sort of crust it used to.Either way just look at India's FC matches, they are played on truer even surfaces with bit of moisture on day 1.And when a Test match comes to town all the taps in the ground run dry for weeks. And even more pathetic like always is standard of umpiring even with these so called elite panel umpires.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 16, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    @d_ban Over the last 20 years of watching every summer of test cricket in Australia I can say that the pitches are more or less entirely predictable year to year, rather than doctored. Maybe to an Indian they look green because there's grass on them, but they're the same for every team that visits, year in year out. The only time they change a bit is it there has been a flood or a drought or something like that, or when the MCG/Adelaide changed to drop in pitches. You could see the WACA slowing down year to year as time went by, and then the efforts by curators to bring back the pace which you can now slowly see coming back.

    The only pitch in Australia where you'll ever find a greentop for an international test match is Hobart, and that happens a lot because it's soaking wet there most of the time.

  • xtrafalgarx on February 16, 2014, 6:10 GMT

    People are so angry that Australia is once again finding it's feet, what's your problem? Did you really think Australia would sleep for ever? Too many kids play cricket in the backyards, too many people are proud of the past heroes who have played under the baggy green before and Australia will ALWAYS be there or the abouts, you can't keep them down. it's as simple as that ,learn to live with it and move on.

    SO many malevolent people here it's unbelievable.

  • on February 16, 2014, 6:07 GMT

    At adelaide he got all of the lower order out and struggled in second innings , But here he has ripped out the head of SA twice.Its incredible,that pitch was prepared as it was and found SA flat footed.None of the wickets taken by Steyn suggest he is in right frame.Steyn 's action isnt correct and Philander thinks getting wickets is his sort of birth right.Frankly the attitudes of SA bowlers were touch too grandeous too.PE probably the worst pitch to go from here Doolan look unflustered ,unhurried and never in trouble,nor the sort of panic which aussies been having

  • xtrafalgarx on February 16, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    Kallis is a great cricketer, but don't tell me his gentle medium pace would have done any better.

  • d_ban on February 16, 2014, 5:41 GMT

    @RJHB:u say aus played on doctored pitches in India?then wht abt the pitches India played on in aus?were they nt doctored?some of thm lookd more lk grn outfields thn pitches.Stop crying lk a little girl.wt goes arnd,comes arnd.If u ppl prepare those kind of pitches,dnt expect bettr treatment frm others.I love aus cricket bt hate the hypocrisy tht u ppl show.PEACE!!!

  • Greatest_Game on February 16, 2014, 5:41 GMT

    @ Mervo on correctly questions "Second slip is where Jacques Kallis stood during the last three decades" , not sure that is true."

    Yep, Kallis stood there for 19 years. I think Jarrod was exaggerating to convey the sense of just how long Kallios DID occupy the position.

  • heathrf1974 on February 16, 2014, 5:35 GMT

    I do find it amusing that some people are saying that batting second for SA was a big problem. It wasn't. The second and third days were the best for batting. Based on their second innings performance; if SA batted first they would have struggled to make 150.

  • Meety on February 16, 2014, 5:12 GMT

    @Wayne Perry - the WI cannot be re-created as the laws of the game have changed. The WIndies got away with bowling 4 to 6 bouncers per over & averaged 12 or less overs per hour. You need a spinner for 2 reasons 1) Variety & 2) Over rates. @drlimpel on (February 15, 2014, 19:34 GMT) - you taking offence to that - says more about your short comings than the author! Fact - Pakistan was ranked well below SA. Regardless of Pakistan's exploits in the UAE, it is a big scalp to claim & any NORMAL person would say Pakistan would be underdogs v SA. @ballonbat on (February 15, 2014, 20:02 GMT) - don't get so worked up over that comment. The fact is Kallis was at the end of his career & there often comes a point when a player says I am no longer good enuff. Kallis may of reached that point - taking the view that someone else in SA cricket will be better able to combat MJ. Nothing to do with cajones - just practicality. I don't think it takes away from his standing in the game!

  • Mervo on February 16, 2014, 4:02 GMT

    "Second slip is where Jacques Kallis stood during the last three decades" , not sure that is true.

  • RJHB on February 16, 2014, 1:32 GMT

    Australia the worst team to face first up post Kallis? Do you mean the same Australia every SA fan (and smug Poms and Indians) have been busy mocking for the last two or three years for the 47 (while conveniently ignoring SAs own 98 same day)? The same Australia that lost 4-0 on shamefully doctored home pitches in India and 3-0 on equally cynical home pitches in England? Funny how perspective can change isn't it? You don't respect Australia, it WILL come back on you with full force at some point! SA discovering that now, England already humiliated, India next summer! Revenge!

  • Vishnu27 on February 16, 2014, 0:19 GMT

    Boom! I like it Jarrod! Great piece.

    "Right now, he looks very much like he is standing with a clipboard armed with stats, history and two average allrounders in the shadow of two giants, and doing all of it against a fire-breathing wyvern armed with nuclear weapons."

    Says much....

  • dunger.bob on February 15, 2014, 23:22 GMT

    @ drlimpel : re Taking offence to the line "(SA drew) the series against a team ranked well below them." .. but dr, Pakistan were ranked well below SA at the time !! I can't see how it's a criticism when it's a cold hard fact. Higher ranked teams are supposed to beat lower ranked ones and the ICC , quite rightly, doesn't care if the match is played home, away or on the moon. .. that means that if there's any criticism here it's directed at SA, not Pakistan. SA were expected to win, and win well. The other implication is that Pakistan did better than expected (according to the rankings, not the fans) so how is that criticism of Pakistan?

  • Matt.au on February 15, 2014, 21:33 GMT

    "he is standing with a clipboard armed with stats, history"

    If he is he is taking no notice of the history and stats.

    If he was taking notice of them, Sth Africa would have batted first, knowing that no team had ever scored more than 250 on this ground in the 4th innings.

    His bowlers would have had use of a 4th innings unpredictable pitch and that would have been in the minds of the Australians' from ball one.

    It was a terrible decision to ask Australia to bat considering the pitches history and now may lead to more terrible decisions being made in the future of this series. I.E. winning the toss and batting to show Johnson 'We ain't scared of you' when they should have bowled.

  • steve48 on February 15, 2014, 21:32 GMT

    Much as i respect kalliis, an all time great, i do not think he would have made a massive difference to the test. It takes mobile, supple players like ABD to curb the MJ onslaught, not characteristics the mighty Jacques was famous for! In most cases this is not a question of lack of heart, but lack of technique and experience of playing a left armer of this pace, targeting areas on the batsman at angles he is not used to. Boxers prepare to fight a southpaw by sparring southpaws, but where is the left armer of this ferocity to practice against? Bell, like DeVilliers a supple player also coped well, as did Morgan and Buttler. Everyone else....South African morale suffered from losing a great, accentuated by team selection. Apparently Domingo loves his stats. Well he should have looked at the stats of the England lower middle order in the Ashes! Normally capable, productive players were made to look like Chris Martin! Should have went in with best 7 batsmen, best 4 bowlers.

  • anoopshameed on February 15, 2014, 20:46 GMT

    @ballonbat, agree with you that he brought into the team much more than the numbers-but still it would not have changed the outcome of this match!-but would certainly have reduced the deficit. I also do not think he retired before the Australian series because he was afraid (that is silly!)-but because he wanted to go out on a high-which he was improbable (not impossible!) to achieve against the Aussies-and might have felt the team would be better without his struggling self. He was just being sensible!

  • ballonbat on February 15, 2014, 20:24 GMT

    @ anoopshameed. Agreed, Kallis's batting record vs Australia is not great. But he would have offered the team far more than McLaren, Faf and Peterson did, not least because he is not just a batsman but an allrounder: MASSES of experience, unbelievable sang froid, brilliant slip fielding and top bowling.

    It's more likely he retired when he did because he had one of the worst seasons of his career: an average of 26 over 8 matches is well below par. And that includes the century he scored after he announced his retirement.

  • Rahul_78 on February 15, 2014, 20:13 GMT

    Jarrod is a master writer but this article,should,enter Hall of Fame. He beautifully sums up the state of SAF cricket. Pitiful selection of trying to replace the Master, a king with two admirable but limited Jacks. Not good enough against an Aussie team hungry for blood and success especially after finding their most brutal assassin in Mitch. Smith needs to be careful here and should look at England who lost their limbs, heart and spinal chord against the rampant Aussies. It would be wiser and be defensive, prepare flatter pitches and try o negotiate Johnson rather then being Gung Ho and try to take on a steaming locomotive.

  • OzHorse on February 15, 2014, 20:04 GMT

    While Kirsten had a good record with the Test team, SA's ODI and T20 record under his leadership was terrible, given the talent pool he had available. And SA's woeful record in ICC events continued.

  • ballonbat on February 15, 2014, 20:02 GMT

    @ Digitror. I knew it wouldn't take long for a Kallis detractor to crawl out of the woodwork. One thing Kallis has never lacked is cojones. He's faced up to the best and fastest and gone on batting after receiving a knock far worse than McLaren's today. To suggest that he retired when he did because he was scared of facing the Aussies is a cheap and petty shot. I'd like to see you say it to his face. He had the right to retire when he felt like it. Sure, he could have gone on and the Proteas would obviously have been stronger if he were in the team, but he said he no longer had the same hunger and drive and he knew it was time to hang up his (test) boots. If you can't pay respect where it is due rather say nothing.

    The problem for SA is many of their best batsmen right now are left handers and Johnson feasts on them. SA need Smith to set a good foundation but he's becoming Johnson's bunny. So Van Zyl, De Kock or David Miller aren't good options. SA will have to stick with top six.

  • on February 15, 2014, 20:01 GMT

    @ Ameya Shinde...yes im aware of what Johnson did to Elgar in that test match last time they met, but Johnson will own everyone right now. Elgar is best performing domestic opener, he has been with the SA team touring for a whole, so he at least deserve the chance to get a long run in the test side opening.

    Johnson can still take wickets on a slow pitch - see Adelaide vs England. S Africa have to fight fire with fire. Guys like Doolan & S Marsh can still fail & Rogers didn't have a great 1st test.

    S Africa simply have to back their fast bowling strenght & fight fire with fire.

  • on February 15, 2014, 19:55 GMT

    SA's batsmen have been thrashed and the bowlers confidence dented. Thats partly because of the loss of Kallis and partly because some sustained success has meant that weaknesses werent being picked up and now are laid bare. SA need to go to some basic cricket principles to start moving forward. They dont have a world class all round to replace kallis - hell they dont even have a test class all rounder. So instead of doing what australia did in there search for the next Warne, just pick the strongest team you can on traditional cricket principles. that is 6 batsmen, a keeper and 4 bowlers. (they wont - they want an all rounder - or the politicians may force Tsolekile in now that the loss has been so bad) Drop the people who aren't or cant perform and pick the best performing players in the local fc competition within reason. To me the team looks like this then: Rossouw, Smith, Amla, de Villiers, du plessis, de Kock, Vilas / Kuhn, Philander, Steyn, Harmer, Morkel / Hendricks.

  • anoopshameed on February 15, 2014, 19:37 GMT

    Kallis has historically struggled against Australia, especially at home in Tests (average in the 30's)-his record proves it! In fact I think he might not have retired when he did, if the next series had not been Australia! So, don't think that his availability would have changed the outcome of the match.

  • drlimpel on February 15, 2014, 19:34 GMT

    "(SA drew) the series against a team ranked well below them." I take offence to that! What will it take for people to admit Pakistan's successful record in the UAE is no fluke and and that it is downright insulting to attribute those victories to simple under-preparedness of the visiting team alone. I thought South Africa did quite well to win that last test match and square the series. But oh no it will take more than that for you Aussies to recognize that. Well I hope you are ready for a rightful UAE shellacking of your own overrated team come this October. We'll see if your fire breathing wyvern is capable of bowling with the same venom, in the sweltering heat of UAE and on pitches which don't behave as if they are made out of marble, like the Pakistani greats used to.

  • on February 15, 2014, 19:30 GMT

    Jarrod, you've said nothing at all about the convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson. Under Kirsten's reign inconsistency in selection cost the one-day team, and ironically, uber-consistency in selection is costing the Test team now.

    We got to #1 always carrying an off batsman, and now this practice has become lore. In not picking de Kock for the India tests the selectors showed that they don't recognise form. While "sticking with the guy till he comes right" is required, one has to know when it's time to give em the chop and move on, and these selectors have not been bold enough to do that with batsmen (with spinners they've done it happily, over and over).

  • Digitror on February 15, 2014, 19:29 GMT

    Quote: "If South Africa were going to play any opposition after Kallis retired, Australia was certainly the worst choice."

    Edit: "If ever there was going to be a right time to retire, the best choice is before a series against Australia with Mitchell Johnson at the peak of his powers with an Australian-record Test bowling strike rate."

  • on February 15, 2014, 19:24 GMT

    SA still would have lost the match if they had Kallis & Kirsten still around..

  • on February 15, 2014, 18:30 GMT

    @ wayne perry are you out of your mind?Elgar was in hindsight the first batsman to receive the Johnson redcarpet.A magical blob in Perth as his team spanked the aussies, one which took his head off,and one and in dipper which Johnson invariably gets.It would be foolish to get in more left handers in team with Johnson hovering around, it simply isnt worth the risk.Beauran Hendricks for all your accolades isnt even close to being a proper left armer nor is Viljoen,then need season or two before they firm up.But Abbot probably can deliver the action isnt great.But you know these players arent even in squad. Conversly the kind of scarring that has happened, the pitch you would like to prepare is slow dry and low surface.But then that will take lot of SA bowlers to get wickets. Steyn has remodeled his action and the ball or the wrist isnt behind the ball.He needs break.Philander has lost zip of the pitch which makes it look he is bowling short.

  • on February 15, 2014, 18:04 GMT

    I've always thought when Kallis retired, that S Africa should play 4 seamers and forget about playing a spinner. They can pick any one of the very talented henough fast bowlers in domestic cricket like De Lane, Viljeon, B Hendricks, McClaren, Abbot, Craig Alexander to build a similar lethal lethal 4-man pace attack like the Windies of the 80s.

    Why waste time picking Robin Peterson & Tahir?

    Also Alviro Peterson has been carried for a while as an opener mainly because S Africa has been successful - but he is a walking wicket. Time to give Dean Elgar a run. Elgar can bowl spin with Duminy.

    De Kock has to play also, to help strengthen the batting, their might be occasions still where De Villiers can keep, i.e if S Africa go to India an wan to pick a 5 bowlers & a spinner. But in this series AB is better of focusing on his batting.

    SA 2nd test team: Smith, Elgar, Amla, Du Plessis, De Villiers, De Kock, Duminy, Philander, Steyn, Viljeon or B Hendricks, Morkel.

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  • on February 15, 2014, 18:04 GMT

    I've always thought when Kallis retired, that S Africa should play 4 seamers and forget about playing a spinner. They can pick any one of the very talented henough fast bowlers in domestic cricket like De Lane, Viljeon, B Hendricks, McClaren, Abbot, Craig Alexander to build a similar lethal lethal 4-man pace attack like the Windies of the 80s.

    Why waste time picking Robin Peterson & Tahir?

    Also Alviro Peterson has been carried for a while as an opener mainly because S Africa has been successful - but he is a walking wicket. Time to give Dean Elgar a run. Elgar can bowl spin with Duminy.

    De Kock has to play also, to help strengthen the batting, their might be occasions still where De Villiers can keep, i.e if S Africa go to India an wan to pick a 5 bowlers & a spinner. But in this series AB is better of focusing on his batting.

    SA 2nd test team: Smith, Elgar, Amla, Du Plessis, De Villiers, De Kock, Duminy, Philander, Steyn, Viljeon or B Hendricks, Morkel.

  • on February 15, 2014, 18:30 GMT

    @ wayne perry are you out of your mind?Elgar was in hindsight the first batsman to receive the Johnson redcarpet.A magical blob in Perth as his team spanked the aussies, one which took his head off,and one and in dipper which Johnson invariably gets.It would be foolish to get in more left handers in team with Johnson hovering around, it simply isnt worth the risk.Beauran Hendricks for all your accolades isnt even close to being a proper left armer nor is Viljoen,then need season or two before they firm up.But Abbot probably can deliver the action isnt great.But you know these players arent even in squad. Conversly the kind of scarring that has happened, the pitch you would like to prepare is slow dry and low surface.But then that will take lot of SA bowlers to get wickets. Steyn has remodeled his action and the ball or the wrist isnt behind the ball.He needs break.Philander has lost zip of the pitch which makes it look he is bowling short.

  • on February 15, 2014, 19:24 GMT

    SA still would have lost the match if they had Kallis & Kirsten still around..

  • Digitror on February 15, 2014, 19:29 GMT

    Quote: "If South Africa were going to play any opposition after Kallis retired, Australia was certainly the worst choice."

    Edit: "If ever there was going to be a right time to retire, the best choice is before a series against Australia with Mitchell Johnson at the peak of his powers with an Australian-record Test bowling strike rate."

  • on February 15, 2014, 19:30 GMT

    Jarrod, you've said nothing at all about the convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson. Under Kirsten's reign inconsistency in selection cost the one-day team, and ironically, uber-consistency in selection is costing the Test team now.

    We got to #1 always carrying an off batsman, and now this practice has become lore. In not picking de Kock for the India tests the selectors showed that they don't recognise form. While "sticking with the guy till he comes right" is required, one has to know when it's time to give em the chop and move on, and these selectors have not been bold enough to do that with batsmen (with spinners they've done it happily, over and over).

  • drlimpel on February 15, 2014, 19:34 GMT

    "(SA drew) the series against a team ranked well below them." I take offence to that! What will it take for people to admit Pakistan's successful record in the UAE is no fluke and and that it is downright insulting to attribute those victories to simple under-preparedness of the visiting team alone. I thought South Africa did quite well to win that last test match and square the series. But oh no it will take more than that for you Aussies to recognize that. Well I hope you are ready for a rightful UAE shellacking of your own overrated team come this October. We'll see if your fire breathing wyvern is capable of bowling with the same venom, in the sweltering heat of UAE and on pitches which don't behave as if they are made out of marble, like the Pakistani greats used to.

  • anoopshameed on February 15, 2014, 19:37 GMT

    Kallis has historically struggled against Australia, especially at home in Tests (average in the 30's)-his record proves it! In fact I think he might not have retired when he did, if the next series had not been Australia! So, don't think that his availability would have changed the outcome of the match.

  • on February 15, 2014, 19:55 GMT

    SA's batsmen have been thrashed and the bowlers confidence dented. Thats partly because of the loss of Kallis and partly because some sustained success has meant that weaknesses werent being picked up and now are laid bare. SA need to go to some basic cricket principles to start moving forward. They dont have a world class all round to replace kallis - hell they dont even have a test class all rounder. So instead of doing what australia did in there search for the next Warne, just pick the strongest team you can on traditional cricket principles. that is 6 batsmen, a keeper and 4 bowlers. (they wont - they want an all rounder - or the politicians may force Tsolekile in now that the loss has been so bad) Drop the people who aren't or cant perform and pick the best performing players in the local fc competition within reason. To me the team looks like this then: Rossouw, Smith, Amla, de Villiers, du plessis, de Kock, Vilas / Kuhn, Philander, Steyn, Harmer, Morkel / Hendricks.

  • on February 15, 2014, 20:01 GMT

    @ Ameya Shinde...yes im aware of what Johnson did to Elgar in that test match last time they met, but Johnson will own everyone right now. Elgar is best performing domestic opener, he has been with the SA team touring for a whole, so he at least deserve the chance to get a long run in the test side opening.

    Johnson can still take wickets on a slow pitch - see Adelaide vs England. S Africa have to fight fire with fire. Guys like Doolan & S Marsh can still fail & Rogers didn't have a great 1st test.

    S Africa simply have to back their fast bowling strenght & fight fire with fire.

  • ballonbat on February 15, 2014, 20:02 GMT

    @ Digitror. I knew it wouldn't take long for a Kallis detractor to crawl out of the woodwork. One thing Kallis has never lacked is cojones. He's faced up to the best and fastest and gone on batting after receiving a knock far worse than McLaren's today. To suggest that he retired when he did because he was scared of facing the Aussies is a cheap and petty shot. I'd like to see you say it to his face. He had the right to retire when he felt like it. Sure, he could have gone on and the Proteas would obviously have been stronger if he were in the team, but he said he no longer had the same hunger and drive and he knew it was time to hang up his (test) boots. If you can't pay respect where it is due rather say nothing.

    The problem for SA is many of their best batsmen right now are left handers and Johnson feasts on them. SA need Smith to set a good foundation but he's becoming Johnson's bunny. So Van Zyl, De Kock or David Miller aren't good options. SA will have to stick with top six.