South Africa have still not appointed a vice-captain, hours before their first tour game gets underway against a Patron XI. The match is a 3 day warm-up game, and will be useful for some of the youngsters to get acclimatised to local conditions.
I am not sure what is going on in SA cricket but Smith has been very critical of the administration about how the younger players are leaving, which is ironic as it seems the SA squad is very difficult to break into. One wonders who will be the second in command a position which in the past was something special. For current SA players it seems a burden.
Some sensationalist journalism indicates that Smith isn’t sure who his vice-captain is as well as stating Loots Bosman and Van der Wath have broken ties with SA cricket. It remains to be seen if this becomes fact or is fiction.
The Test side to take on Pakistan was announced the other day (click here) and was missing a vice captain. I wrote to Michael Owen-Smith, the media officer for Cricket South Africa about this. He has always come across as a nice guy and sure enough he got back to me and indicated that a new vice-captain will be announced in the next few days.
It is good to see that there will be a new vice-captain appointed and it is difficult to speculate who it is. Ashwell Prince has captained the test side before and my money would be on him to take the vice-captaincy role however he has recently resigned as the president of the national players association regarding discussions that were leaked to the press. (click here) Prince stated ”I trusted people and that confidentiality has been broken. I was betrayed and used. I feel strongly that Saca had nothing to do with this. But the fact that it could have been a player, or players, made me realise that I cannot represent people whom I cannot trust. “ After making such statements, Prince might well turn down the honour of being vice-captain.
Owen-Smith indicated that there is likely to be a different ODI and Test captain, which further substantiates that it could be Prince as he hasn’t been part of the ODI setup aside from when he was selected for a few games against India and the World Cup. Thus there is a need for different vice-captains.
The ODI (and possibly test) vice-captain could well be Mark Boucher, although after he allegedly brought the game into disrepute the selectors might think twice before naming him as the vice-captain. That said, knowing Mark Boucher he would refuse to take up the role.
With many of the senior players seemingly unavailable for selection Pollock, Kallis who resigned and has refused to reconsider and Boucher, this certainly is going to be an interesting selection that will more than likely raise a few eyebrows, and add to the recent controversies that have happened apart from the Boucher and Kallis Saga
The last day of the group stages features two key matches out of the three on offer. The first match of the day at 10 am (8:00am GMT) is the decider between Australia and Sri-Lanka, the winner will join Pakistan in the semi-finals. It is hard to call a winner in this game, as Australia are without a doubt the best side in the world in the longer versions of the game, however they have struggled to adjust to the shortest version, twenty20.
There is no doubt they have the players that can impact on this game, however they haven’t seemed to adjust to this format quickly enough. I think Sri-Lanka will win it in a tightly contested game. The key man for Australia will be Symonds, a brutal innings from him could change the game.
Pakistan vs Bangladesh: There is nothing to lose for Bangladesh who started off by thrashing the West Indians, and struggling from there. They have some classy players, but are no match for the powerful Pakistanis.
South Africa vs India: The final match could cause some calculator work to be used if India beat SA. South Africa will qualify as the number one side even if they lose to India provided it is nail bitingly close. However if South Africa get trounced by India, they could find the net run rate counting against them and fail to qualify. It is an unlikely situation, especially as India just need a win to qualify regardless of by how much it is.
I have worked out that if India score 210 and SA fail to make 195 they will be knocked out. At the moment they have the best NRR however the matches are so close it is easy for them to relinquish this position.
I predict South Africa to win this game but it will be their toughest game of the tournament so far as there is added pressure on them. The conditions will be very interesting and more than likely favouring the side batting first. This toss is a vital one to win.
Pakistan and New Zealand are through to the semi-finals, England and Bangladesh are out, Australia have to beat Sri-Lanka to qualify.
Today SA face NZ, tomorrow they take on India. India have to beat England today in order to give themselves a chance of qualifying. The winner of this group will face Australia or Sri-Lanka, depending on the outcome of tomorrows game. Pakistan face bangladesh and surely must win tomorrow?
Pakistan and South Africa have looked like the danger sides thus far in the tournament and If SA win their last two game these sides will contest the final if they win the semi’s, which will be deserved and an absolute cracker!!!!
The first day on the group stages got underway on Sunday with New Zealand, Australia and South Africa winning their matches. The group stages finish on Thursday with the semi finals being played on Saturday and the final on Monday, a public holiday in South Africa.
The remaining fixtures for the group stages:
17 PAKISTAN v SRI LANKA Wanderers Stadium 18:00
18 NEW ZEALAND v ENGLAND Kingsmead 10:00
18 AUSTRALIA v PAKISTAN Wanderers Stadium 14:00
18 BANGLADESH v SRI LANKA Wanderers Stadium 18:00
19 SOUTH AFRICA v NEW ZEALAND Kingsmead 14:00
19 ENGLAND v INDIA Kingsmead 18:00
20 AUSTRALIA v SRI LANKA Newlands 10:00
20 BANGLADESH v PAKISTAN Newlands 14:00
20 SOUTH AFRICA v INDIA Kingsmead 18:00