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Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Can you identify this man – who is the most referred man when it comes to South African cricket.
The Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium at the orange city was not the happy hunting ground with Indians folding in 4 days. This wasn't a liberally grassed pitch like the one at Motera in April 2008. Certainly nothing positive for a Team which played with World No. 1 tag but were outsmarted in all departments. There would be cries all over and not many would be prepared to accept defeat gracefully. There was some hope that Indians would fight valiantly. The result was a defeat by an innings and 6 runs. The brittleness of the middle order stood exposed – we had a new incumbent wicketkeeper debuting as a front line batsman, out for a duck in the first essay and dropped without doing anything in his skill set of wicket keeping.

Before we go into the details of the lost Test, here is something on Proteas, formerly The Springboks. Though they first played test in 1902, in 1970, the ICC voted to suspend South Africa from international cricket indefinitely because of its government's policy of apartheid, an overtly racist policy, which led them to play only against the white nations (England, Australia, New Zealand), and field only white players. Apartheid was a system of legal racial segregation enforced by the National Party government in South Africa between 1948 and 1994, under which the rights of the majority black inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and minority rule by whites was maintained.

The man’s photo at the start of the article is that of : Basil Lewis D'Oliveira CBE (born 4 October 1931). Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, he was classified as 'coloured' under the apartheid regime, and hence barred from first-class cricket. He captained South Africa's national non-white cricket team, and also played football for the non-white national side. With the support of John Arlott and the members and supporters of St Augustines Cricket Club in Cape Town, he emigrated to England in 1960, where he played first in the Central Lancashire League, for Middleton, before joining first-class county Worcestershire in 1964 and becoming a British citizen. By 1966, he was being selected for the English national team, as an all-rounder, and he was one of the Wisden cricketers of the year for 1967. D'Oliveira played the first Test of the 1968 series against the Australians at Old Trafford.

He was left out of the touring party to SA in 1968 under the pretext that his bowling would not be effective in his native country. South African cricket officials, realising that the inclusion of D'Oliveira would lead to the cancellation of the tour and probable exclusion from Test cricket, exerted pressure on the MCC hierarchy and the decision not to pick him was felt by many to be a way of keeping cricket links with South Africa open. There was dissent in the press to this course of events and when Warwickshire's Tom Cartwright was ruled out because of injury D'Oliveira was called up into the squad. South African prime minister BJ Vorster had already made it clear that D'Oliveira's inclusion was not acceptable and despite many negotiations the tour was cancelled. This was seen as a watershed in the sporting boycott of apartheid South Africa.
This decision excluded players such as Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards and Mike Procter from partaking in international Test Cricket. It would also cause the emigration of future stars like Allan Lamb and Robin Smith, who both played for England, and Kepler Wessels, who initially played for Australia, before returning to South Africa. The ICC reinstated South Africa as a Test nation in 1991 after the deconstruction of apartheid, and the team played its first sanctioned match since 1970 (and its first ever One-Day International) against India in Calcutta on 10 November 1991.
With this historical background, South Africans proved far superior – Sehwag & Sachin scored centuries and Badri probably done enough to keep his place. Sachin’s 46th was his third in successive tests. The squad for the 1st Test was not balanced and now Raina, Karthik gets drafted at the expense of back up seamers Sudeep Tyagi and Mithun.
As the scorecard would reveal SA grinded on declaring at 558/6 – India folded with a meager 233 in the first and slightly improved 319 in the second. On a pitch where Indian spinners struggled, Paul Harris was effective. Dale Willem Steyn born a couple of days after our famous WC 1983 win, completed his fourth career 10 wicket haul and pushed Indians completely to the background.

When South Africa returned to test fold, India played them for the first time in a Teat at Kingsmead, Durban in Nov 1992. the match was drawn. Kepler Wessels who is now here as a coach became the first man to score centuries for 2 different countries. Sachin became the first player to be dismissed by TV replay – referred by Square leg Umpire CJ Mitchley & given out by TV Umpire KE Liebenberg. The player who made century on debut was not much in limelight – that was Praveen Kalyan Amre. He went on to play 11 tests and 37 one dayers.

Here is some analysis of our losses in Tests, which are not few and far between.

From 1932 to till date, we have played 436 tests. Remember that our 100th test win did come recently – Nov 2009 against Srilanka at Kanpur.

Of the 436, we have so far won 103 and lost 137 – loss % being 31.42 %

South Africans have been playing Test cricket from 1902 and have so far played 349 with equal number of wins and defeats – 122.  Against South Africa, our record is dismal in that we have played 23 and lost 11 (47.82%)

Of the 103 wins, maximum have come against England (19). Of the 137 defeats, 49 have been at Home and 88 are in matches played away.

The recent defeat by an innings and 6 runs is not most humiliating, as we have lost 36 times by an innings + some runs. The worst was the Innings + 336 runs defeat against West Indies at Kolkatta way back in Dec 1958.

Of the 36 Innings defeats – 3 were handed over by South Africa, whilst Aussies & England have beaten us in a similar manner 9 times.

Of the 36 innings defeats – 14 have been in matches played in India and 22 abroad.

In the present millennium, we have lost 6 times by an innings – the worst being the loss at Colombo on July 08 when we lost by an Innings & 239 runs.

Cricket fans would now look to Eden Gardens for another miracle to happen.

With regards – S Sampathkumar

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