A duck and a cheap run out were how South Africa’s Theunis de Bruyn began his Test career and in truth it hasn’t got much better since… until now! Having been shunted up and down the order in between being dropped and recalled and with South Africa unable to clarify whether he should be an all-rounder at number six, a specialist batsman at number seven, (Yeah that’s right, Jos Buttler wasn’t the first!) de Bruyn has, over the last two days, suggested he might actually be a Test match number three.
Nothing endears a player to me more that woeful ineptness combined with being mishandled. Just 133 runs in eleven innings meant that I’ve been desperate for de Bruyn to demonstrate his class and oh how he did it in Colombo. He did so as experienced teammates around him floundered however one who didn’t was Temba Bavuma. It’s satisfying to see Bavuma get amongst the runs too as he’s another player that’s South Africa seem to have mucked around. Let’s also not forget spinner Keshav Maharaj’s first innings figures of 9-129. On the opposite side of the coin, it’s great to see Sri Lanka win a Test match (Sorry South Africa!). Sri Lanka have regressed horribly as a competitive outfit and given Zimbabwe’s recent limp efforts, the last thing international cricket requires is a lack of competition.
Steven Smith, David Warner & Cameron Bancroft. Please come back. All is forgiven. (Say Australian fans!)
For those of you that have been living in a cave for the past week, I feel obliged to inform you that batsmen Steven Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft have all returned home from Australia’s tour of South Africa.
The good news for Australia fans is that Joe Burns & Matt Renshaw have joined the squad whilst Play Station Portable Handscomb has been promoted from 12th man duties. Unfortunately for Australia’s fans, the trio’s combined contribution to their team’s response to the home side’s first innings total of 488 is… 12-3. Renshaw made an epic 8, Burns a fluent half as many and Pistol Pete kept it simple… quack quack. Shaun Marsh is at the crease having failed to reach fifty in the series. He’s made starts but hasn’t backed up his Ashes tons.
There’s still hope for Australia. They’ve got their new captain Tim Paine to come, he of one century in 100 First Class matches (172 innings!). No Seriously, I like Paine and hope that he goes well.
It was great to see Temba Bavuma in the runs for South Africa though he rather unfortunately got left stranded on 95. This was in part due to Morne Morkel’s anti-climatic follow-up to receiving a guard of honour… quack quack first ball! It does seem a bit weird that the home side have mucked Bavuma about. They brought Theunis de Bruyn into the side again but don’t seem to understand what de Bruyn’s role is and have promptly mucked him around again by dropping him again.
Keep tabs on the fourth Test in Johannesburg by clicking on the link below…
120, 32, 98 & 70*. That’s what opening batsman Stephen Cook scored for South Africa A in their competitive series against India’s second string recently. I closely analysed Cook’s performance in Australia in a series of previous articles…
and despite registering a century in that series, ‘The Proteas’ selectors soon lost patience and initially replaced him with Theunis De Bruyn in New Zealand before bringing in Heino Kuhn against England. Kuhn was selected on the back of an undefeated double hundred in a tour game but made only 113 fifty-less runs at a paltry average of 14.12 in the series. As we’ve seen from the efforts of West Indies batsmen, big runs against second string county sides don’t always translate into international runs.
Prior to the England Test series, Cook had been playing in England for Durham and had been steady in the County Championship without quite being outstanding but surely that experience and acclimatisation would have served him well. It was an odd decision to replace him with non-opener De Bruyn in the first place, only to then move onto another elder statesman in Kuhn. Kuhn (33) and Cook (34) are about the same age. Having invested in Cook it may have made more sense to have persevered with him. All this chopping and changing will sound familiar to England followers. Judging by his response in the A series Cook is, as we already know, a determined fighter. Back to De Bruyn, South Africa don’t really seem to know what he is (opener, middle-order bat, all-rounder?) and mucked him around during the Test series in England.
South Africa host Bangladesh next this September. They may see this as an opportunity to blood a young gun, the likes of Aiden Markram who was back-up in the summer and has struck a couple of 70s in the India A series. They may also decide that it’s worth sticking with Kuhn and good luck to him if they do. Having said that, if Cook is in the A squad then he must be in with a serious shout of a recall. He’s a gritty non-showy type of player, my type of player. I’ve always had a thing for stoic opening batsmen and would love to see Cook win a return to the international fold. He’d surely back his chances of closing in on 1000 Test runs at home against Bangladesh.