Four-one to the Proteas

So the Proteas end their tour of Australia with a 4-1 lambasting of a series thrashing in the Commonwealth Bank ODI series. Victory in the final match came by 39 runs on Friday at the WACA in Perth, the same ground where South Africa got the Test tour off to a winning start in December. Indeed the wheel of fortune has come full circle for the visitors, now the number one ranked ICC ODI side. A colossal arrival party is expected at O.R. Tambo airport in Johannesburg at the weekend.

Unfortunately Herschelle Gibbs will not be afforded the opportunity to break David Boon’s mile high beer drinking record.

There were doubts as to whether Johan Botha had the know-how to fill Graeme Smith’s captaincy boots but no-one can argue that he didn’t do the job with aplomb. He bowled darn well too, returning figures of over the five ODIs of: 47 overs, 188 runs, 8 wickets. To concede exactly four runs per over against Australia is miserly.

The single match South Africa lost was the second ODI at the Bellerive Oval and it was a match they well and truly should have won. After bowling Australia out for under 250 the tourists needed under 8 an over inside the last ten overs of the chase with six wickets and a powerplay in hand. It could so easily have been a 5-0 series whitewash.

It has often been said that when the Springboks play rugby in Perth it should count as a home game as so many South Africans live here. While it isn’t quite the same at the cricket in Western Australia, the WACA has been good to the Proteas this summer.

After all Perth is not much further from South Africa than it is from the rest of Australia. The most isolated city in the world, Perth boasts a few other extraordinary stats. The locals say that it has the highest per capita rate of millionaires in the world and is also reported to have the highest worldwide rate of serial killers. And I thought Australia was boringly safe.

A sell-out crowd here tonight witnessed an exceptional recovery by Hashim Amla (97 runs off 117 balls) and AB de Villiers (60 runs off 71 balls). A good total was ensured by their 138-run partnership after the tourists’ innings looked precarious at 58/2 with the ball swinging. JP Duminy (60 runs off 42 balls) then converted that platform into a total as the South Africans posted 288 for 6.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe (4 wickets for 50 runs) took a wicket with his fifth ball in ODI cricket as he helped bowl Australia out for 249.

Mickey Arthur said at the pre-match conference that “the number one ranking is too soon for a team developing as an ODI unit”. I think he’ll get over it.

Another thing; have you ever noticed the bizarre similarity in appearance between Ricky Ponting and Mad magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman?

This article appeared on Cricket365 in January 2009 following the conclusion of the one-day series between Australia and South Africa.

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