Temba Bavuma: A Rock In A Hard Place

Earlier this year I noticed a strange cricketing trend: over the last decade, the Test teams most likely to be shot out for under 100 were not underachievers like the West Indies or relative minnows Bangladesh. Instead, the most implosion-prone batting lineups on the planet were South African and Australian. I examined this peculiar statisticalContinue reading “Temba Bavuma: A Rock In A Hard Place”

The beginning of the end

“There have been a few rumours floating around,” said AB de Villiers. The nation relaxed. At last the awful speculation would end, and in a second we would hear the good news. The rumours were media speculation. The rumours were a dressing-room joke misheard by a journalist. The rumours were mind games cooked up byContinue reading “The beginning of the end”

South African cricket: build or become croquet

Twenty years ago, everything was different. Twenty years ago, everything was the same. In the summer of 1995, South Africa was a country consciously, self-consciously, trying to build something better. These days it’s become fashionable to dismiss that period as a naïve fantasy – the worst thing a white liberal can be accused of theseContinue reading “South African cricket: build or become croquet”

Damned lies and cricket ratings

When Australian batting star Steven Smith leap-frogged from fourth to claim the top spot in the ICC’s official ranking of Test batsmen this week, it felt like heresy. It wasn’t the size of the leap, but rather the players he surpassed to become the first Australian since Michael Clarke in 2012 to seize the crown.Continue reading “Damned lies and cricket ratings”

Steyn has nothing to apologize for

Dale Steyn has dished out some short and nasty stuff over the years, but this week he was on the receiving end. Granted, it was only moderately nasty, but it was very short: 140 characters, to be precise. The South African giant turns 32 next month, and on Monday hinted in an interview that heContinue reading “Steyn has nothing to apologize for”

Up into a clear blue sky

The story of leg-spin is a history of Test cricket itself. The great names conjure not only their deeds but their entire eras. In the jerky newsreel footage of the 1930s we find Bill O’Reilly and Clarrie Grimmett bowling in tandem for Australia, a fearful prospect on uncovered pitches; and yet, even as they reachContinue reading “Up into a clear blue sky”

The Prince is gone

The farewells and testimonials have been effusive, befitting someone of the stature of Brian Charles Lara. But, behind the carefully complimentary prose and the staggering, almost numbing, statistics, there have been both a tension and a hollowness. A tension, because it would not be proper for seasoned journalists to write thinly veiled love letters toContinue reading “The Prince is gone”