07 Sep Hope on the Horizon: Proteas Beat Black Caps
Our national cricket team, the Proteas, have won a Test series once again. I know, right? It’s been a while since I last came across a sentence that reads as such, too.
In fact, so bad has our test form been over the last two years that we have plummeted from the summit of the world Test rankings in 2014 to seventh prior to the recent two-match series against New Zealand. And in fact, before the 1-0 win in the series in question, it had been a shocking 19 months since we last won a series, and that was when we beat the West Indies here at home in January last year!
But the good news is that we are now back from the dead, if the recent two matches are anything to go by, anyway. To be fair on our boys, it has been a while since we last had a clean bill of health in the bowling department, not to mention top-order batsmen who remembered how to actually hold a bat.
So it is with great joy and enthusiasm that I inform those who may have not been following our opening series of the new season and thus may not know that our best bowler, the legendary Dale Steyn, is back from a lengthy lay-off due to injury – and that he is looking menacing, too. To add to that, his second in command in the longest format of the game, the highly-rated Vernon Philander, is also back from months on the sidelines after a self-induced ankle injury.
The former made sure that his return was felt when he took eight wickets for 99 runs, which included his 26th career five-for (five wickets taken in a single innings) in the second match. He was on a serious rampage, bowling at a consistent 130-140km/h in the second match with a consistent line too, which helped him to get half of his wickets from behind the stumps.
Our bowling attack looked very impressive in the series, and for the first time in a while it felt like we have a long line-up of world-class bowlers, when you consider that I haven’t even yet mentioned what the current chief cricketer Kagiso Rabada, did.
Last season’s Cricketer of the Year had something to show the Kiwi batsmen too, as if he needed to prove what he is capable of. The two wickets he took in the second innings of the second match were a reminder that we no longer depend on the likes of Steyn for pace because it is something that he has in abundance. This showed when he took his wickets bowling in the 140s, a pace so fast that it made the opponents uncomfortable.
This series was pleasing to watch from a South African’s point of view because it served as a reminder as to why we once were the number one Test side in the world. To think that we dismantled a top side like New Zealand without even the help of our five-day game regulars like Morne Morkel and Kyle Abbott, not to mention captain AB de Villiers’ bat, is something that inspires great hope in our imminent return to the top.
Our next match is a once-off One-Day International against Ireland on September 25.