Some Positives Came Out of Proteas’ Journey to Glory
After Proteas’ disappointing exit from the ICC Champions Trophy against England in the semi-finals, the word “Chokers” yet again relentlessly came out and about in the media. Many might concur with the Chokers label, but I for one beg to differ. The Proteas in my opinion were in fact not Chokers. Instead they were a team who were outplayed on the day by a very formidable English bowling attack.
The Proteas played convincingly well in the tournament despite them not having a number of their senior players in their arisen. Greame Smith’s injury and Jacques Kallis’ continuous rebel to represent the Proteas in One Day Internationals meant that the South Africa’s captain, AB de Villiers, had to step towards the test and lead the team. This however seemed to be a lot for de Villiers to handle as his various decision making, especially with the bat –saw the Proteas constantly in a lot of trouble at various intervals of the tournament. His floorless 70 runs knock against India in the opening game of the tournament was in vein. In that position and as the captain of the team, it was his responsibility to bat on until the end and make sure the team reaches the victory line. The same message is pointed out to de Villiers with his loose shot in the semi-finals when the Proteas were in a slippery situation of 4/2.
I also found it truly bizarre of Gary Kirsten to have left out an opening batsman such as Alviro Petersen from the starting line-up. To not have Petersen play for the entire tournament; and instead opting for Collin Ingram, who’s an inexperienced opening batsman, to open the batting against a quality swing bowler like James Andersen –wasn’t one of the smartest decisions. Not taking anything away from Ingram; he played well against the West Indies with his match winning performance of 73 runs off 63 balls, but England have a stronger and skilful bowling attack than the West Indies–and clearly Kirsten knew this.
Not only was Petersen the ideal batsman to have in the starting line-up, but his wisdom and experience as well would’ve helped de Villiers captain his men on the park. In all fairness to Kirsten, Petersen was the perfect player to be Smith’s substitute. The fact that he [Petersen] captained the Highveld Lions to the domestic One Day Momentum Cup and Ram Slam T20 Challenge championship says a lot about his ability to lead a team.
Last but not least, the performances of the South African all-rounders in the tournament have to be highly credited. As soon as Chris Morris stepped into that plane to replace the injured Morne Morkel, he knew what he had to do and knew the importance of his role in the team. His figures of 4/17 against Pakistan were most definitely a highlight in the Proteas’ attempted quest to glory. Robin Petersen stepped his batting skills up when needed in the top order to steady things. His 124 runs-partnership with de Villiers against India gave the South Africans a glimmer of hope to actually when the game which was labelled impossible for them to win.