What I learnt from watching the 3TC in South Africa

What I learnt from watching the 3TC in South Africa

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Andile Phehlukwayo's celebration was right on point



There wasn’t a lot of cricketing action in South Africa, actually, none before their brain-child three-team cricket was played on Saturday. But, it wasn’t normal cricket, it wasn’t any of that 20, 50 over or red-ball stuff, it was a new concept-driven by cricket’s direction.

Ah, finally cricket was back in the rainbow nation and got quite the views with Cricket South Africa (CSA) putting on a spectacle for the global viewers. However, in equal measures, it was met with confusion on what the rules were, who the players were and how short-format was going to be played in divided segments. Each innings would last 6 overs, divided into six innings in total. 

For every team, an innings lasts 12 overs in a very confusing format yet the action was clear as daylight. It was everything that shorter versions of cricket were meant for, jam-packed action with an ability to thrill the audience. However, this was a bit different as it not only kept the audience entertained but also kept the players in the field, with the conditions tough equally for all the three sides. 

What followed the 36-overs was extreme stuff, ones that are seen in the Olympics where gold, silver and bronze medals are served out. Here too, it was served in a similar fashion with the three captains standing on the dais. But, the action was quite clear and it left me with thinking points from the entire proceeding.

Only fitness separates ABD from being the best performer for South Africa

Well, I’m no fan of AB de Villiers’ return to the South African setup after the months and months of drama that started post the 2019 World Cup. But I must say and admit that yesterday, he looked like he was ready for the contest and was by far, the best player on the field. The way he trashed JJ Smuts across the park was a thing of beauty and his half-century was just incredible. 

Two of the things that have prevented AB’s comeback into the Proteas setup are form and fitness. While he threw form out of the window just like he did Smuts, the question still remains over his fitness. Once he does prove his fitness over a period of time, over a tournament preferably he will not only be back in the Proteas setup but also be their best performer, walking into a certain T20 World Cup. 

Rainbow nation throwin’ off their talents

Until yesterday, there was a certain notion around the cricketing circuit, that South Africa’s talent pool is getting drier by the day. After yesterday, no one would be uttering the same word again, the talent pool is there, right there to be used and can be debated whether it is used properly or not. For the Indian fans, names such as Glenton Stuurman and Bjorn Fortuin would be new but in South Africa, these are the players who have shown immense potential to compete with the best over a place in the national team. 

At the age of 27, Stuurman has well over seven years of experience on the domestic circuit, playing for the Warriors and South Western Districts picking over 178 wickets with the red-ball at an average of 21 yet he has fallen incredibly down the pecking order. And Fortuin, on the other hand, has already represented South Africa four times, where he has shown glimpses of hopes. So in all, there is plenty of talent around, it is just they have to pick the right ones now. 

South Africa’s pace future debate settled once in for all

One moment from the game that I vividly remember and recall is Thando Ntini’s spell to AB de Villiers. The fact that bowling to de Villiers has scared many bowlers in the past, those too well-experienced ones, it was just a matter of time before people expected Thando to get the same treatment. What followed was a thing of joy, with Thando unleashing a venomous yorker to catch de Villiers off-guard. His dad, Makhaya from the commentary box was particularly happy and rightly so. He's already fast-pacing himself into the setup, with his exploits on the domestic front, where he has left a mark in List-A cricket with 18 wickets at an average of 28 and it only gets better in First-class. 

The long-standing debate about the African nation’s brittle pace attack seems to be coming to a close and who better than Makhaya Ntini’s son, Thando to seal the deal. He’s just 20 but his pace, composure and skills are far better than some around the world with only time before he represents the national team to uplift the legacy. 

Cricket’s two formats - Tests and T20 can exist at the same time

For once, let’s end this debate on which is better than the other and let us look at the reality which really suggests that both of them could peacefully coexist at the same time. While it was definitely weird, it started making more sense by the end of the proceedings and it was sort of an amalgamation between Test cricket and T20 cricket. Split into innings, the entertainment was far more and the rest in between equally for the teams and it was determined by who scored more runs, similar to all formats of the game. 

Yet at the same time, it also had three teams playing in the same match at the same venue, which was staggering. Five years ago, if someone told me or even you for that matter of fact that there would be cricket between three times at the same time, you would have called in the ambulance. Five years down the road, it has changed, giving cricket a much-needed refresher and suggestion that ‘we can coexist.’ 

Futile batting lineup?

If you watched South Africa any closely during their T20I series at home against Australia, you would know why this question. Their batting was futile at the most, barring the brilliance here and there from Quinton de Kock. The rest of the batting unit looked futile, fragile, lifeless and lacklustre among other words. On Saturday, it was completely different with de Kock not even in the scheme of things yet there was so much enthusiasm and action on the batting front. 

The host of stars- Aiden Markram, JJ Smuts, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis just put on a show for the television viewers. It looked like it was the first day of the IPL action, wherein if you recall Brendon McCullum was hitting the bowlers across and outside the Chinnaswamy and this was just 12 overs. It showcased once again to the South African Board of selectors that there is enough batting prowess in the country, just needs a better looking. 

South Africa, a racially discriminated nation, made their message loud and clear

In a football-style celebration, when Andile Phehlukwayo lifted his t-shirt which read ‘Black Lives Matter,’ it had a certain ring to it that sent out a clear message. It was the same message that was spread across in England’s series against West Indies yet this felt more loud and clear, with the country having been one of the most racially segregated and discriminated ones. So much so, before the start of all of this action, when Lungi Ngidi stood up for the message, he was thrown down the cliff by fellow South African cricketers, Pat Symcox and Boeta Dippenaar. 

On the day, however, they spoke as one nation, as a nation that lifted the spirits of all coloured ones at the venue, that BLACK LIVES MATTER and who better than Phehlukwayo to bring out the celebration. It was also incidentally quite fitting that Lungi Ngidi closed out the encounter with a wicket. The support from top to bottom, Graeme Smith to Faf du Plessis was heartwarming and surely made it a bigger spectacle than ever before that too on Nelson Mandela Day.

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