AB and Dale bring world class to local showpiece
AB DE VILLIERS and Dale Steyn proved, in the Momentum One-Day Cup play-off between the Cobras and the Titans at Newlands yesterday, that the quality gap between international and provincial levels looms large.
In the same match Roelof van der Merwe, Justin Ontong, Jacques Rudolph, Morne Morkel and Robin Peterson proved that it does not.
The Cobras won by three wickets with 21 balls to spare to earn a place in the final against the Lions at the Wanderers on Friday.
But the subplot to the main drama - which included Dane Vilas being given out obstructing the field in a decision as diabolical as it was undoubtedly correct - made for compelling viewing.
De Villiers and Steyn are among the finest players of the era, so there was no surprise when De Villiers took charge of the Titans' middling total of 241/9 with a fine 107 even as Steyn found wicked swing to take 5/45 for the Cobras.
But in the Cobras' reply of 245/7, the scintillating spin of Van der Merwe, who took the new ball and claimed 4/29, and Ontong's lustily hit 82 not out showed that South Africa has more talent at its disposal than many realise.
The forgettable games had by Rudolph, run out for 24, Morkel, who failed to fire in his return of 1/42 from nine overs, and Peterson, who went wicketless in seven overs and was bowled first ball by Van der Merwe, gave the national selectors plenty to think about.
That Heino Kuhn and not De Villiers kept wicket for the Titans added a twist to the debate about whether AB's batting is stunted by his duties behind the stumps.
Cobras keeper Vilas was sawn off for 27 when he defended a delivery from David Wiese, who fielded and flung the ball back down the pitch.
Although Vilas had advanced down the pitch and was thus a legitimate run-out victim, he had no chance of not being hit by Wiese's throw, which was aimed at Vilas rather than the stumps, and smacked him in the midriff.
The laws of the game said Vilas was out. The spirit of the game said clearly that he had been wronged.