Bangalore v South Australia, CLT20 2010, Durban September 17, 2010

Unity shines through in South Australia's success

Togetherness, a happy team culture and some fun have helped mould the Redbacks into a strong outfit

It was something Stephen Fleming said on the eve of the tournament that comes to mind now. It didn't register strongly then. Fleming was asked whether the fact that he got control of his team just five days before the first game was a concern. He agreed it was. He then said these words: "Watch out for South Australia. They have been training from May. They work as a team through the year and I hear they have prepared really hard and well. We just have five days and I am a touch nervous." The word "nervous" registered strongly then and, subsequently, questions were hurled to find out more about Chennai's preparations. The South Australia bit was forgotten. A week into the tournament they've been making their presence felt. They have lost their anonymity.

What Fleming said proved one thing: the IPL teams weren't taking the others lightly. They can't afford to, given the manner in which they were hounded out of the competition last year. Teams like the South Australia Redbacks might have been anonymous to the fans outside their countries but not to their opponents. Anil Kumble, Royal Challengers Bangalore's captain, felt his team had enough video evidence to surf through and that South Australia weren't really unknowns to them. Yet there were indications that perhaps they are still not completely exposed. Michael Klinger had only four leg-side scoring shots; he just stood beside the line and kept peppering the off-side. Kumble put it down to bad bowling. "We had seen the videos and Praveen Kumar showed at the start that good bowling can tie them down. But the rest didn't bowl well and the two Aussies played very well."

Those two Aussies, Michael Klinger and Daniel Harris, did everything that Australian batsmen are supposed to do. They played up to the stereotype. They ran hard. Those Aussies always do. Remember Geoff Marsh and David Boon? They cut hard. Those Aussies always do. They field superbly. Those Aussies always do. The only difference from the Aussies that represent the country is that this lot was happy to play the underdogs card. "The people can call us favourites after this but we would be the underdogs, to be honest," Michael Klinger, the captain, said. "There are teams with bigger names. Having said that we know that if we can stick together, trust each other, trust ourselves, we can go a long way in the tournament."

Like most teams basking in success, South Australia are a happy outfit. They have devised a new team mascot: Dingbat the Bat. Everyday, they nominate a squad member who has displayed the silliest and most un-intelligent behaviour to carry the bat except while training or playing. If he refuses to, a fine is levied.

Daniel Christian, who has the most wickets in the tournament (eight at 11.25 with an economy rate of 7.61), was a recent Dingbat holder. It had something to do with a maid. His team-mate Callum Ferguson describes it with glee: "Christo was wandering past Taity's room and noticed his room door open and obviously wanted to know what was going on. He entered the room at pace as he does, and let rip was an extremely loud 'Oi ... What the hell are you doing, where are ya?'

"The poor maid came rushing out of the bathroom apologising profusely for her 'indiscretion' before Christo quickly apologised, realising Taity was obviously out and left the clearly shaken maid to her duties. Respect the dingbat." Now, apparently, it belongs with the team's strength and conditioning coach, Jarrod Egan. No word yet on what silly act he did.

'Dingbat the bat' is a kind of goofiness that also binds this South Australia team. It showcases the players' camaraderie, their togetherness and their happy team culture. As Fleming said, their preparation started way back in May. Perhaps even before that. At times it would rain and the winter conditions weren't ideal for practice in Adelaide, but they would continue to plough through.

"We knew that if we can field well in those tough conditions, we can do really well in this beautiful weather here in South Africa." Klinger then nailed the reason behind their team's success: "We do the little things well; we run hard between the wickets, we back up throws, we field well, we try to bowl to a plan and when the team does these it goes a long way to bring success." Respect the Dingbat!

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nadir on September 18, 2010, 16:48 GMT

    Nice win South Australia! Just keeping an eye on semi finals starting from 24th september.. Shahid Afridi would get free from 22nd Sep.. Not a bad idea to include him in the team from semis. Lets hope for the best!

  • Lou on September 18, 2010, 9:50 GMT

    This article is cursing them.

    Mumbai Indian's fielding was poor, but the Redbacks showed they bat deep in that game. Losing wickets may not have stopped them as Tom Cooper and Borgas showed.

  • Thomas on September 18, 2010, 7:59 GMT

    South Australia's performance in the Big Bash relied heavily on the contributions of Shahid Afridi, Kieron Pollard and Mark Cosgrove. None of whom are present in the current side. Captain Michael Klinger and Callum Ferguson top class replacements, but were unknown quantities for Twenty20.

    To be honest, they should never have gotten close to Mumbai's score, if it wasn't for some absolutely deplorable fielding, that would've been an easy stroll home for the Indians.

  • Senthil on September 18, 2010, 7:44 GMT

    RCB, especially Kumble, always finds a reason or an excuse of something HIS team did or didn't do, whenever they lose. Why can't he accept that they were beaten fair and square by a better team? Why does he lose his temper with young players like Manish Pandey for example? None of the Indian players in RCB did anything last night, and they look vulnerable as soon as one cog in the plan is thrown out of gear. Not signs of a happy, adaptable team, and please, who wants angry faces all the time? The Redbacks I would support just for the spirit they bring to the game. What fun!

  • Dre on September 18, 2010, 0:25 GMT

    I said after the 1st round and a bit that my favorite teams to watch were Warriors, Redbacks and RCB. The way Redbacks thumped RCB, I can now finally use that word-"favorites" and say they should go all the way, barring the infamous t-20 hiccup. I hope now (wishful thinking) that the media have learnt their lesson and realised that being a more ADVERTISED team does not automatically make u favorites! The key word is team, a bunch of popular performers thrown together is not always a great team. Watching the Redbacks, Warriors and even T&T last yr, one could get the impression that 7-9 players out of each team could hold their own in their national sides despite some are yet to get a chance. THAT IS WHAT COUNTS. Not who's face is always in the ads but who's faces play the game hard and strategically.I disagre getting "BIG" teams together for longer would gaurantee a better performace, they play enough together in my opinion, its just their execution n perhaps lack of drills is the prob.

  • John on September 18, 2010, 0:15 GMT

    I'm not sure why nobody rates the Redbacks as a T20 side. They dominated the Big Bash at home (losing in the final due to the random nature of T20), have a long batting line up, one of the best limited overs bowlers in the game and they are great fielders. They were my favourites to win going into the tournament...

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