South Africa v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Durban, 2nd day December 27, 2011

The Durban jinx continues to baffle

Firdose Moonda at Kingsmead
Why do South Africa keep stumbling to low scores at Kingsmead? It is a question that makes even the usually sage-like Hashim Amla nervous

There is something a little comical about a confused cricketer. Usually, he starts off smiling, inexplicably so. Chances are a nervous giggle will follow, his eyes will shift, fingers will be twiddled and answers will be searched for from thin air; or if they are at Kingsmead from thick air because the humidity makes it so.

Today, that confused cricketer was Hashim Amla. Usually sagely and sensible, Amla was a baffled, bumbling semblance of himself when he was asked to explain why and how South Africa were shot out for 168, their lowest ever total against Sri Lanka, on a fairly tame pitch. "I don't know, I can't give you a straightforward answer because I am not too sure," he said. "If we knew then we wouldn't find ourselves in the position that we are in."

The truth is that collapses in Durban have become a pattern for South Africa and no-one seems to know why. Last year, India bowled South Africa out for 131 in their first innings via a combination of Zaheer Khan's swing, Harbhajan Singh's spin and Sreesanth's snide comments.

The year before that, England ripped through South Africa, dismissing them for 133 in their second innings. Graeme Swann took five wickets and Stuart Broad's four wrapped it up. The year before, it was Australia, with Mitchell Johnson in the form of his career, who bundled South Africa out for 138 at Kingsmead.

The Durban jinx may sound like something out of the Neil McKenzie book of superstitions but it is becoming a reality that sticking your bat to the ceiling may not help solve. There are several theories that have been concocted to explain why Kinsgmead is becoming less of a home and more of an away venue for South Africa.

One of them suggests that because the Test starts in the heart of the festive season, and the families of the players travel with them, the intensity may not be the same. Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers and Ashwell Prince all made reference to the add-ons being a possible distraction in the lead-up to this match. It may be harsh to ban loved ones from visiting the players during the holidays, but if they are to blame for batting collapses there may be no choice.

Another possible reason is complacency. Last year, South Africa came to Durban on the back of thrashing India by an innings and 25 runs in Centurion. Before both the home series against England and the one against Australia, South Africa had beaten the opposition in away series and may have expected to repeat the results in their own conditions.

Then, there are Amla's attempts at explanations, which pointed to the lack of application of the batting line-up and the fact that conditions suited swing bowlers rather than outright pace. "We played some uncharacteristic shots that got us in trouble. They bowled quite well and there were a few soft dismissals on our part. The pitch kind of suited not so much quick bowling but a bit more medium pace and they hit good areas."

Marchant de Lange's seven-for somewhat disproves that theory and casts the spotlight even more directly on the number of poor shots South Africa's batsmen played. The pitch was not particularly troublesome, the bowling was accurate and the batting inept, and it cost South Africa dearly. "We are very disappointed," Amla said. "We knew it was not a 160 or 170 track."

South Africa are now in a situation where they are forced to rely on their bowlers, again, and Amla said he hoped they could bail the batsmen out. "Fortunately, picking up [Tillakaratne] Dilshan late in the day helped. He is a dangerous player; it's a big blow for them and a fantastic wicket for us to get. The bowlers have done a fantastic job over the last few matches of keeping it simple and making it difficult for the batters, and if we can get some early wickets tomorrow we can put them under pressure."

Then, the real work will start. With the pitch set to deteriorate further and chances of rain appearing to have gone away, batting in the second innings will be a challenging task. "It will be difficult to chase a score but if you bat well, like [Thilan] Samaraweera, who batted really well, left well and applied himself, you can score runs," Amla said.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 28, 2011, 15:45 GMT

    The only thing that can deny victory for SL would be the Weather hopefully it stays clear and SL can win ,well SA should stop playing tests at the Kingsmead sorry they can choke anywhere...

  • Dummy4 on December 28, 2011, 15:44 GMT

    It has been a great day for Sri Lanka. How about a B team from South Africa which can bear the brunt of the Sri Lanka's attach. Over to you Kepler Wessels !!!!!!!!!!

  • Dummy4 on December 28, 2011, 13:37 GMT

    Kingsmead curse continues...

  • James on December 28, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    to add to what @SunAndSea said - shocking batting by our top order. When you also consider the bowling averages of the guys who took their wickets, it is shameful. If they bat like this, #1 is a long way away. All credit to Sl, but please, please Saffers, prove me wrong!

  • Dimitri on December 28, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    Well,, Sri Lanka can not ask for a better position to be in at the begining of the 3rd day.Please please bat sensibly guys ...if you can build a lead of at least 400 runs by lunch tomorrow we are in the game...You guys can do it and desrve a it more than anything....we are all with you...Make us proud.

  • Satish on December 28, 2011, 8:13 GMT

    @James Anderson : Unless u r sarcastic mentioning England as real SA team and the one representing SA as SA-B, you are wrong mate.. This is the best 11 SA can put on the play..

  • Dru on December 28, 2011, 8:11 GMT

    One Mr. Warne made some great excuses - "my Mum made me take a pill to look slim on TV" and "we gave comments on pitch conditions only to a book maker" but SA have come up with another - the travelling family, yeah lets blame the Mrs!! It was a simple case of exchanging x-mas gifts in the form of top order batsman between the two teams. Except for Sanga and Kallis all other batters wickets were gifts. Having said that SL know all about jinx's - recall Asgiriya - strange things used to happen to SL on that ground, so much so that the groud was once 'clensed' in the hope of better results. Not sure what is going on in Durban but hey how about blaming Santa Clause???

  • John on December 28, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    @Mahanama... ever heard of sarcasm? Thats what James Anderson is all about.

  • John on December 28, 2011, 7:38 GMT

    Did anyone see this 'Jinx' person bowl? I did not... only saw Welagedara and Herath bowl the SAffers out.

  • jay on December 28, 2011, 7:09 GMT

    see the difference between paid sl cricketers VS non paid sl cricketers, after ICC paid some part of payments to SL players, now they show what they can do, if they got this payment before, you will see, much more from them,,,

  • No featured comments at the moment.