South African supporters will forever remember the Australian victory at the Wanderers as the Test in which the Proteas reached their darkest depths of humiliation, anguish and despair.
Somehow in that same memory bank we would do well to remember that this Australian team is possibly the finest ever produced and that the entire Test was played to as near perfection as one can be played.
I guess the biggest dilemma facing all those involved with the game in South Africa is where to from here?
The loss in Australia and the fact that the crisis has carried on in exactly the same fashion must surely have highlighted the fact that something is terribly wrong not only within the team, but also in other spheres. The pendulum has swung continuously for some time now and it looks to have settled in an area that only drastic measures can correct.
It is very easy to be negative and critical right now. The ammunition has been provided and it won’t be easy to defend because the results speak for themselves. I believe that the UCB needs to listen very carefully right now and understand that the support base for cricket in this country has not fully recovered from the Cronje saga, the Windies smoking leak, the India Test cancellation and the poor publicity of the Australian tour.
Not only have these issues led to loss of confidence by the public in the administration but now the actual abilities of the local heroes is being out in question.
The strategic planning for this tour seems to have been an absolute disaster right from the start. The Aussies were handed good facilities in Potch and then not placed under any pressure whatsoever. Right now the bowling cupboard is supposedly very bare and we don’t look like being able to take ten wickets in a Test, never mind twenty.
Hopefully by now the selectors have met with Pollock, Ford and van Zyl and agreed to some sort of strategy that will include the likes of Haywood (if fit), and Pretorius of Free State. The 'A' team must include Willoughby, Peterson and Hall.
The pitch in Port Elizabeth should be carefully checked by all and some game plan worked on for the Cape Town Test. No doubt players like Langer and Ponting will want to also get some form and their team will rest certain key individuals against the 'A' team this coming weekend.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Proteas desperately need the services of Kepler Wessels to just hold hands with the management of the team. This should have been done before the Australian away tour.
We need to see some real grit, determination and good old-fashioned guts. Discipline at the crease is an ingredient that was sadly lacking and any player that doesn’t buy into that tried and tested South African way, should take a hike. The basic disciplines that create pressure were ignored and poor Boucher was left to plug holes for two days.
Don’t for one minute think that this series cannot be turned around. It will take huge commitment and self-belief, and that in cricket is sometimes only a good innings or a great catch away.
Thanks for the memories AD, you were the best and I know that to retire is only the beginning of the next chapter. Rest assured Wisden will sleep well next to your bed.
Enjoy your rest -- you’ve earned it my friend.
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