close
close

South Africa finds the punching feet of the plucky but tone-deaf US

ICC MEN’S T20 WORLD CUP 2024

Quinton de Kock's 40-ball 74 was his first attempt of 50 or more in nine T20I innings.

Quinton de Kock’s 40-ball 74 was his first attempt of 50 or more in nine T20I innings. ©Getty

South Africa emerged from the gloom that has not helped them go five matches unbeaten in this edition of the Men’s T20 World Cup, their longest winning streak in the tournament’s history, to take on the plucky United States in North Sound on Wednesday defeat. .

Quinton de Kock’s 40-ball 74 was his first attempt of 50 or more in nine T20I innings, and followed four trips to the crease in which he had scraped together 48. Challenging batting conditions in those first four games were part of the reason for his poor running. As he told a television interviewer after the game, “It’s nice to finally get a decent pitch.”

De Kock and Aiden Markram shared 110 for 60, South Africa’s only century stand in the 19 T20Is they have played since October 2022. By the middle of the 12th they had already surpassed their previous best total in this tournament. They finished at 194/4 – the highest score achieved in the 18 men’s T20Is played at North Sound, the fifth highest score of the T20I World Cup, and South Africa’s highest score in seven matches in this format. Only 19 times in the 101 T20Is in which they have batted first have they scored more runs.

But the success was not unqualified. De Kock’s dismissal in the 13th over was followed by that of David Miller and Markram, with the three wickets falling for 15 in 17 balls. Miller suffered just his second first-baller in all his 106 T20I innings.

It made little difference to the bigger picture. The Americans showed fight without dragging the game close enough times to worry South Africa. Five overs in the second half of their innings produced 10 or more runs each, but they entered that phase needing more than two runs per ball.

Andries Gous hit Anrich Nortje for a four and two sixes in a 15th over that sailed for 19. Gous also hit two of the three sixes that soared in the 19th over, bowled by Tabraiz Shamsi, who cost 22. How much would South Africans regret? their puzzling decision to leave out death bowler Ottneil Baartman?

Not much with Kagiso Rabada around. He was not at his best in the first four games, where he looked lethargic and took 4/84. But his intelligence and experience shone through on Wednesday when three of his four overs yielded six or fewer runs and he took 3/18.

Gous’s career-best 80 not off 47, and the 91 off 43 he shared with Harmeet Singh for the ninth wicket, limited South Africa’s margin of victory to 18 runs. The Americans’ 176/6 was their fifth-highest total in the 32 T20Is they have played and their second-highest total against full-member opponents.

The failure of May's cricketing compatriots to acknowledge his death on Wednesday was a dereliction of duty

The failure of May’s cricket compatriots to acknowledge his death on Wednesday was a dereliction of duty ©Getty

Yet something was missing from the US performance. The omission was at once tangible and not, and perhaps not a problem for many among the resolutely cricket-minded. But this is a World Cup. It’s about representation and how teams that profile themselves as national present themselves.

That brings us to Willie Mays, the Say Hey Kid, who retired on Tuesday at the age of 93. Unfortunately, the U.S. team didn’t wear black armbands or do anything else to mark the moment.

Mays was essentially AB de Villiers. But better. He was one of the greatest players to ever grace an era in any sport. Only five MLB players have hit more than Mays’ 660 home runs, and two of those were drug cheats. Only six scored more points, including a drug cheat. Mays was one of 33 players to record 3,000 or more hits, but he remains the only member of that club to also average at least a .300, hit more than 300 home runs and steal more than 300 bases. And he did all this never far from the sharp end of racism. Mays grew up idolizing Joe DiMaggio, saying of him, “Willie Mays is the closest thing to perfection I’ve ever seen.”

The failure of May’s cricketing compatriots to acknowledge his death on Wednesday was a dereliction of duty. Only four members of their XI were US-born, but that was no excuse. The letters on their playing jerseys read USA, so they best represent the USA. Not perfect, but correct.

© Itch

Related Posts