Friday, January 01, 2010

The Madness of King Graeme

The difference between failure and success is narrow – or to (mis)quote Spinal Tap, it's such a fine line between stupid and clever.

Not wishing to derail the existing train of thought that's suddenly taken root amonst England fans that we're now odds on to win the Ashes next winter, but the Durban test illustrated perfectly what Mssrs St Hubbins and Tufnel (Nigel, not Phil) were on about.

The single turning point of the Durban Test was the run out of Graeme Smith - so in this case the fine line was probably about three inches. Up to that point, you could tell - through the way he was batting and his general body languge, that Smith had set himself to score a big ton. Such a ton would have taken the Saffies to the safety of 450 - especially against a four man attack that wasn't exactly looking threatening during the Kallis/Smith partnership.

Instead, he self immolated and the rest is history.

Four days later and we’re in a world turned upside down scenario. Interviewed at the end of Day 4, Dale Steyn resembled the soldier in the famous Don McCullin shot from Vietnam - utterly shell shocked, after seeing the South African batting line up turn a benign wicket into - excuse the continued millitary metaphors, a minefield.

Before that the hyped up bowling attack that Mickey Arthur allegedly and ludicrously compared to the West Indies attack circa 1985 had been laid threadbare - suddenly finding the idea of defending a 350 first innings score beyond them. Morne Morkel excepted, who still looks as wayward as he did over here eighteen months ago, but the accurate balls are deadly. Steyn himself looks dreadfully under cooked, whilst, on the other hand, Ntini looks finished. whilst Then there's Paul Harris – who looks like a borderline headcase you'd have a quick pint with in a bar before making your excuses as he starts looking round for someone to pick a fight with.

Mix in Kallis, no more than a hopeful trundler, and it suggests a certain arrogance that they thought they could muddle through with that as their attack.

Then the bowling collapse begat a batting one of equal proportions - a top six that looked pretty fearsome folded crumpled like a sheet of wet tissue paper

But had Smith not run himself out it would have probably been totally different, and the confidence trick could have probably worked.


Vim said...

The confidence trick is certainly dependent upon Smith.

Note: Two of the matches Aus won against them involved Mitchell Johnson medically removing Smith from the game.

The rest of the batsmen looked like frightened kids in the second innings at Durban. I have no idea what that was about.

Mark said...

Agree - the South Africa batting did have a 'rabbit caught in headlights' quality second time around. Even Kallis for heavens sake.

Good point on Johnson - I'd forgotten that.

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