Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

From chokers to champions

On 29/8/2012 South Africa defeated England in ODI and with that they attained No. 1 rank in all three formats of the game. They had beaten England in England 2-0 in Test series and had attained No. 1 rank in Tests. They held No. 1 rank in T20. Attaining ODI No. 1 rank completed their domination.

England had their problems. They lost the first Test by an Innings. There was dissension in the team. Kevin Pietersen was dropped for the third Test. On 29/8/2012 at Southampton in second ODI wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter dropped Hashim Amla on 42 and 92 who went on the score 150. South Africa scored 287/5. England were all out for 207 in 40.4 overs, lost the ODI by 80 runs with 9.2 overs to spare. Same day Andrew Strauss, England’s Test captain, retired from all forms of cricket.

For long South Africa were known as chokers. They had lost matches after being in commanding positions. Last year England had defeated India 4-0 in Tests, 3-0 in ODIs and 1-0 in T20. What a difference a year had made.

South Africa had abundance of talent before. It seems their losses were due to non-cricketing reasons. There was betting and match-fixing. When many people put money on South Africa winning South Africa lost. Bookies made money. People lost faith in South Africa’s ability to win. They stopped betting on South Africa’s wins. South Africa winning became profitable for bookies.

Three unexpected and unnatural deaths had South African connection. Hansie Cronje was South Africa’s captain. Robert Andrew Woolmer was South Africa’s coach though at the time of his death he was Pakistan’s coach. Peter Roebuck, a cricket correspondent, died in South Africa.

Rankings of Tests and ODIs began around ten years back and of T20 some years later. For a long time Australia dominated the rankings. India attained No. 1 ranking in Tests and held it for about 18 months. England was No. 1 in Tests for a year.

As on 29/8/2012, in Tests, South Africa had 120 points followed by England with 117 points and Australia with 116 points. In ODIs, South Africa had 124 points followed by India with 120 points and England with 118 points. In T20s, South Africa had 130 points followed by England with 129 points and Sri Lanka with 119 points.

Retaining No. 1 rank in all three formats of the game is a tough task. England are South Africa’s rivals with second place in Tests and T20s and third place in ODIs. In the next one year India will play many of their matches at home. To remain No. 1 South Africa will have to win most of their Tests and all of their ODIs and T20s.

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