World Cup 2019, New Zealand vs South Africa: Should Kane Williamson have walked?

New Zealand’s Kane Williamson in action. (Reuters)

In the midst of all the gushing that New Zealand captain Kane Williamson received on social media, came the blistering attack from former Protea spinner Paul Adams. Why didn’t Kane Williamson walk?? Paul Adams tweeted. He further asked, If Kane Williamson was Mankad after he didn’t walk. Would he be upset.

Down to the 38th over, South Africa desperate for a wicket, Faf du Plessis turned to his most experienced bowler, Imran Tahir. Williamson, batting on 76, got the faintest of edges to wicket-keeper Quinton De Kock. Replays picked up a small spike on the Sniko from the ball having brushed the toe-end of the Kiwi captain’s bat. If South Africa had appealed, Williamson might have been given out. Inexplicably, de Kock didn’t appeal, while Tahir after a momentary bout of excitement, walked back to his bowling mark.

Grant Elliott, New Zealand’s hero of the 2015 World Cup semifinal, came in support of his former team-mate. Writing for the New Zealand Herald, Elliot said: BlackCaps captain Kane Williamson had every right to stand his ground, even though TV replays seemed to suggest he nicked a delivery. No one in their right mind would expect a key batsman like Williamson to walk in a crucial World Cup game especially if the opposition couldn’t even be bothered to appeal. Faf later claimed that Williamson told him he didn t know he had a faint nick on it and would have referred the decision, had he been given out. From you just dropped the World Cup that never was said really 20 years ago, South Africa had progressed to you didn t know you had caught the World Cup. This too wasn t said, really.


Let the Postmortem begin

A lot was said though when South African publication IOL Sport got down to listing five reasons why it all went wrong for the Proteas. The inquisition first hit out at the regular failure of its most experienced players in crunch moments. It is an over-riding theme that has plagued so many events in the past, and it reared its ugly head again, it said. It proceeded to rue the side s ill-luck over injuries since South Africa rarely had a fully fit squad to pick from. CSA s inability to stand up to BCCI and get key players released early from the IPL, also found a mention. Kagiso Rabada looked a weary version of his best self at this World Cup due to his exertions in the IPL for Delhi. And finally, it hit out at the Saffer s selection of five players over 34. Faf admitted to ageing another five years during the epic clash against the Kiwis. It showed in the field where Du Plessis one of the finest fielders in his day simply doesn t have a gun arm any longer after numerous shoulder injuries.


Mountains to climb

The coffers of Cricket South Africa (CSA), the governing body for the sport in the country, are empty. Projections are that CSA will suffer a loss of 654 million rand over the next four years, according to a report in The financial stress equated poor preparation, according to Stuart Hess, writing for

As part of a bonding session, the team climbed up Table Mountain in Cape Town a trip which can be termed as cheap and best . Compare this with an expedition in the Swiss Alps with renowned adventurer Mike Horn to guide the players ahead of the 2012 tour to England, after which the Proteas became the No.1 side in the world. "South Africa s preparation was a hike up Table Mountain and a three-day camp at Tukkies in Pretoria. That is nowhere near enough for a high-intensity tournament like the World Cup. While Cricket South Africa s financial woes are well-documented, it is no time to start penny-pinching before a major tournament, Hess wrote.


Next up: The coach

A column in SA Cricket Mag, skipped the first five stages of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and jumped to acceptance: It doesn t sound so bad if you re a South African supporter, does it? Beaten by four wickets with three balls left?" it said desolately.

The impassioned piece put the blame squarely on coach Ottis Gibson. In truth, this World Cup campaign was over the moment the selectors entrusted coach Ottis Gibson the former West Indian fast bowler who has unashamedly advocated a bowlers-win-matches process to swim upstream with backing bowlers over batsmen for the tournament, the column says.

The writer went on to draw contrast between Eoin Morgan’s world record batting performance and South Africa’s sorry batting display the next day, which saw them limp to a total of 241. As captain Faf du Plessis admitted afterwards, that total was 20 to 30 runs short.

But die-hard South African fans are still hanging onto mathemetical chances: an unrealistic hope , the magazine says, that fans cling to when everything screams it s game over.


It s the batting, silly

After AB de Villiers left the scene, the Proteas have been found way short in batting firepower, with their best players either on the wane or too inexperienced.

When they have needed a player to stand up and post a game-changing score, the Proteas have had nobody to answer the call, Lloyd Burnard wrote in Sports24, citing that a pair of 68s by Quinton de Kock and an unbeaten 67 by Rassie van der Dussen were the Saffers highest scores. Didn t help that Kane Williamson scored a ship-steadying 100 in the tense chase. Even Faf du Plessis conceded: If you put our top six against other top sixes around the world, purely on a numbers point of view, we won’t be in the top three when it comes to that, the skipper acknowledged. We’re just not producing scores or innings that can win you games.


Colin grandly at home

For Colin de Grandhomme, it was like walking onto his home turf when he entered Edgbaston. One of the most liked players in Birmingham Bears outfit, he had single-handedly blasted them to the finals of the T20 blast in 2017. A large number of fans had turned up to cheer their hero, with chants and banners, sporting the Bears’ team jersey. One of the posters flashed: "Welcome to the grand home, Grand homme!" Another read: "Give the Saffers a Bear Hug!" Whenever he had the ball or the bat in his hand, or roved near the ropes in his floppy hat and sunglasses near the Eric Hollies stand (named after the leggie who nailed the Don in his last innings), they yelped out: "Grandy, big man, give him a clap, clap. Grandy, loud man, give him a clap, clap."

The Zimbabwe-born Kiwi, though he has in past urged his fan-base to pen a more lyrical chant, couldn’t but hide his excitement, and engaged his fans after the match. Grandhomme didn’t disappoint them with his all-round performance: bowling 10 throttle-and-thrift overs, taking out the valuable wicket of Aiden Markram before returning to blast a match-swaying 60 off 47 deliveries. The Bears’ fans were all too familiar with the big-hitting at the death, and they had coined a nickname for him too: "The Coroner!" The South Africans could well relate to that title.


Down go the electric lines

Trust Pat Symcox to stick the knife into South African wounds. Describing Cricket South Africa as intellectually bankrupt , the former Protea compared it with troubled public electricity utility Eskom, which has had a history of power shortages, corruption and will be pided into three entities due to high debts and poor reliability of supply. Cricket SA has become the ESKOM of our sport. The product is poor and the business model is outdated, Symcox wrote on Facebook. Self-correction will not happen sadly. It will need a massive overhaul. Unfortunately though, any narrative that does not conform and is not aligned to the current system of governance will be rebuked and rejected out of hand as both derogatory and not in the interests of those currently charged with keeping the keys to the future of so many.


Hunky, dory, glory in NZ

After watching their team’s all-nighter against South Africa, the hosts at Auckland-based Radio Hauraki’s risque and riotous podcast are on air. They are doing the graveyard plus morning shift, thanks to their time zone. The irreverent hosts, and the equally cheeky pundit, don’t sound disoriented, despite the sleeplessness. Former New Zealand World Cupper Grant Elliot, they call him The Jav, is the special invitee. "What a morning, we poached South Africa. It was a repeat of the last semi-final in 2015," says the man, who like Williamson, had hit a last over six to beat World Cup’s perennial Tragedy Kings four years back.

In this studio, they don’t indulge the stars. "Can’t remember that game. Did you play? Are you a cricketer?," asks the anchor. Laughs all around. They move to talk about the day’s hero – Steady the Ship aka Williamson and The Minute Piece aka Colin de Grandhomme. They have all kind of names for every Blackcap. Every name has a story, most can’t be shared. They talk about the two chronically unexcitable Kiwis in an enduring tone. Williamson, they say, is allergic to compliments. "You tell him, ‘you have scored the best century ever’ and he goes, ‘I think de Grandhomme had a good inning.". They replay de Grandhomme’s underwhelming post-game interview. He is barely audible, he is dishing out mundane monosyllables. "It’s like he was describing a natural disaster," says a hosts.

And what’s a Kiwi podcast without Aussie bashing. David ‘Dum Dum’ Warner gets mentioned to contrast Williamson’s angelic calmness and also during the end of the show random rapid fire with Grant. Tea or Coffee? Turner or Seamer? Wine or Beer? And finally,the best question. Would you spend an hour watching replays of Warner scoring a hundred or get waterboarded by an ex navy seal with a PTSD? "Waterboarding, Elliot said almost instinctively. The studio is in splits, like the rest of this Island.