Saturday, January 07, 2006

Smith out-Punted

Graeme Smith's bold declaration has been, predictably so, hailed as courageous and as a positive step for South African cricket and the game in general. Justifiably so too, in my view. Though one suspects the same pundits, particularly Aussie writers/reporters/former players would have had a chuckle about the backfiring over a beer. Some newspapers went ahead and expressed their glee in fact, while others tried hard to suppress the smirk. Nevertheless, it was the only way South Africa could have won the game - considering they made it hard for themselves all series by not clinging on to chances as you would expect them to, and that the umpiring didn't go their way in this game. Kallis' apparent diffidence didn't help. No one would care if the team lost 1-0 or 2-0 anyway, a series loss is a series loss. Smith would have no doubt expected a much better effort (quality-wise) from his bowlers, but they faltered when it mattered the most. He wouldn't have counted on a lifetime performance from the Australian captain, though, and it was Ponting's brilliance as much as the blunt attack that felled the Proteas. Makhaya Ntini's absence had something to do with the bowling being somewhat lifeless, but Andre Nel was collared and that may have been when the Aussies started to look at the scoreboard. That young Botha was collared was much less surprising, and to add insult, he found himself on the dreaded list of bowlers with suspect actions. Ho hum. A trip to Perth beckons! The whole business has an air of a doosra to it, to be honest, but let's leave it to the honourable experts to come up with their certificates. As for the real Punter, he has been on the fringes of being bestowed greatness, but he hasn't quite seemed to belong to the elite echelons of the game. There has never been any doubt about his strokeplay, and his horizontal bat shots are some of the best one has ever seen. The blot has been the early-innings weakness outside the off-stump, and he didn't do himself great favours on the tour of India in 2001 with a nightmarish run. As recently as the Ashes where he was the one Aussie batsman who retained his reputation, he was regularly troubled and dismissed with the slightly-outside-off line. It would be picky in the extreme to deny Ponting the label of a great batsman, however, with his range of strokes, refreshing attacking play (I can only remember the Old Trafford innings where he curbed his instincts) and match-winning ability. Certainly in the context of the modern era, Ponting is not inferior to very many. - NK


Blogger unsui said...

Best Punter Innings as per me was WC2003 Final , when he single-handedly (no pun see last few overs of his innings) annihilated Indian attack(?).Somehow his image and style doesn't give him that aura like his predecessors.Also I have my doubts on the way he shirks of leadership responsibilities on faliures and starts blame game in press,which is not a mark of a great leader

9:51 PM  
Blogger Gameboys said...

unsui, I agree with you that was probably his best innings in terms of quality, but this was definitely his best test performance.

6:43 AM  

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