South African Cricket: Of Talent, Controversies and Excellence

Blog by: Roh


The fate of India’s tour to South Africa may be still hanging in the balance with monetary issues forming the crux of the hosts’ stand but the financial repercussions aside, the lack of a protracted series would stand to make cricket out to be the biggest loser. And not just because of the competitive strength of the two sides, but also because of the rich cricketing history that the hosts bear testimony to.

For, amongst all cricketing nations presently, there’s none as consistent as South Africa. Though they spent over two decades away from mainstream international cricketing action on account of the apartheid issue, their re-integration into the international cricketing fold was as seamless as though they had never left the arena. And just as South African cricket began to slowly come out of that setback, less than a decade later, turmoil threatened to affect their standing in the global cricketing community yet again. The match-fixing debacle saw the team captain emerge as the prime antagonist in the cricketing fraternity. This not only placed the entire team under the light of painful scrutiny, but also tested its ability to regroup as a unit capable of putting on a cricketing show as impeccable as in the early 90s.

It’s almost uncanny then to see that the team has never been in limbo or has been thrown out of equilibrium for any reason; be it either because of such underhanded manoeuvring or simply because of players retiring from the professional cricketing midst. On the contrary, the South Africans have always maintained their distinction as all-around players with all three cricketing frontiers – batting, bowling and fielding – exceptionally manned. Thus it is of no big surprise when a South African cricketer starts to take the world by storm; it’s as if it’s a given – to follow on the precedents set by past legends.

Whilst on the subject, though aspersions would be cast about the Proteas’ lack of winning titles – and their propensity to choke during crucial and key matches – it is however undeniable that their lack of winning major cricketing tournaments hasn’t reduced their competitiveness to pose a constant threat to the other teams. And over the course of years, this aspect of singularity of the South Africans has only gotten better with each South African cricketer bringing in a different tinge to the team’s existing potential, year-after-year.

The closest that any team has managed to come close to this unique peculiarity of the South Africans is the Australian cricketing team. But there again, even the Australians after having enjoyed a considerable period of longevity as the best test and ODI squad – achieving the stature of being invincibles almost two generations apart –haven’t been able to best the South Africans, despite their tally of World Cup victories and other assorted titular plaudits.

And now, where the present Australian squad finds itself in dire shambles, the South Africans are going as strong as ever, not just as the best test playing outfit, but also as a superior ODI and T20 squad with rankings complementing this superiority of theirs. That the BCCI then finds itself compelled to disapprove of a long and extended series between such a team is quite agonising.

Though a truncated series would definitely be better than not having India tour the South African cricketing realm at all – the latter being a strong possibility in case the BCCI doesn’t cede to CSA’s initially released itinerary – the longer run of the earlier intended series would be incomparable to all other events being laid out by the BCCI.

While the Indian team’s incredible run as been a primary topic of discussion amongst cricketing circles, to watch the team play an opponent against whom they have a lopsided playing record – overseas, no less – is an opportunity that shouldn’t be procrastinated or set aside. For, to do so would be equivalent to postponing a cricketing affair that has the potentiality of going down as a historic series in the sport’s record-books for years, if not decades, to come.


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