Just a few weeks ago, Proteas coach Russell Domingo admitted how much he enjoyed the feeling of victory when it wasn’t AB de Villiers or Hashim Amla scoring the majority of the runs.
It seems a bizarre thing to say in the stark world of print, but we all knew exactly what he meant. It’s just reassuring to have confirmation that they aren’t the only regular match-winners.
But what can you do? They just keep doing it. Amla’s century laid the platform in the second ODI in Mount Maunganui and the captain’s quick-fire runs at the end took the game away from New Zealand.
It is amusing to think that having the two best ODI batsmen in the world in your starting XI can be construed as a weakness, but that’s exactly how many people see it. “Over-reliant?” You can’t stop them from scoring runs!
The Black Caps have been dire and let themselves down in the first two ODIs. Undoubtedly, the absence of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor in the top order added to the meek fragility. But the much appreciated power-hitting of the middle order, so effective on flat pitches, was ruthlessly exposed by South Africa’s seamers.
The current NZ squad, it would appear, would be a whole lot more successful playing away from home.
I was among many who believed the Proteas would be far more stiffly challenged than they have been, but perhaps AB de Villiers’ team is better than we dared hope. You have to be allowed to show your ability, and New Zealand’s brightest sparks have been extinguished before they had a chance to ignite. We’ll have to wait until Australia now to see how they will respond under pressure.
I will be in Australia to see the five-match contest first hand, having, regrettably, missed the NZ leg. But there will be no two-week break at home, having answered a last-minute request to join the commentary team in Dhaka for the test series between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
The traffic is screaming outside my hotel window as I recover from the 26-hour trip from Cape Town and await the 6:30am collection on Saturday morning. There is a rich irony in watching the two lowest-ranked teams in the world do battle before heading straight to the top-of-the-table clash beginning in Perth on November 14.
There is also a great deal of intimidation from a travel schedule I’ve never come close to in 25 years. From the second test in Khulna, it will be 30 hours back to Cape Town, where I will stay for approximately 20 hours before heading to Jo’burg, Sydney and back to Perth for the first two matches of the series. Then Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney before the flight back to SA.
Disorientation has embedded itself in me, and I’ve only just started. Bear with me.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to get in touch.