I’m always disappointed to see our national cricket team, the mighty Proteas, lose a Test match – dead rubber or not – because I’m a Test cricket enthusiast and the Proteas represent the country of my birth.
Needless to say that I am thus disappointed about our recent loss to the beleaguered Australia, or the Baggy Greens if you like, of seven wickets in the third and last Test of the one-sided series which began in early November.
And I’m not disappointed because I have an insatiable desire to get the better of the Aussies, like most of my fellow compatriots do, but because I think I saw our stand-in captain, Faf du Plessis, letting the opposition win.
This happened when the quasi-compassionate Du Plessis, who scored a ton, declared the first innings on 259-9 on Day 1. 259! Who does that?
I was baffled by that decision because I thought that the whole point of declaring an innings was to give your opponents a chance to respond after you’ve posted a reasonably competitive score – and by ‘competitive’ I mean anything above 400 or 450.
But there was Faf showing ‘sportsmanship’ – as it is described when a team chooses to inflict minimal damage to the opposition instead of what it’s truly capable of – and eventually costing us the match, which meant that the Baggy Greens avoided a second consecutive whitewash against the Proteas, after the 5-0 thumping in the One-Day International (ODI) series in October.
But apart from Faf’s unnecessary exploits, it was a good series overall for us South Africans. We claimed yet another series win Down Under and pulverized one of our arch-rivals in their own backyard in the second match when we beat them by an entire innings and 80 runs in Hobart.
Personally, what was even more satisfying was seeing one of my current favourite players, Kyle Abbott, doing so well with the ball in the last two Tests. He took nine wickets in Hobart (which included a six-fer) and four in the third match, which was the Proteas’ maiden day/nighter.
Another thing that’s as disappointing as Faf’s magnanimous act is how long we now have to wait to see the Proteas in action again with the red ball. The next match is the first of three Tests against Sri Lanka and their in-form spin wizard, Rangana Herath, here at home starting on Boxing Day.
If only it could come as quickly as it took Faf to declare the innings.
*Picture taken from: dev.thedailystar.net.