It's cricket, gents, not life and death

11 July 2017 - 07:54 By Telford Vice
Faf du Plessis. File photo.
Faf du Plessis. File photo.
Image: Andrew Boyers

It's  beyond all of cricket's boundaries that one of the key members of South Africa's dressing room in England is celebrating the arrival of a new life even as another is mourning the loss of a loved one.

Faf du Plessis returned to the dressing room during the first Test at Lord's having missed the match to be with his wife, Imari, to welcome their daughter, Amalie.

Russell Domingo left this safe space in pain on Sunday and made his way home for the funeral of his mother, who died in a car accident last month.

To be reminded that there are bigger, more important things in the world than mere cricket should serve as a sobering jolt for the South Africans.

So they were shot out for 119 in their second innings and lost the Lord's Test by 211 runs.

So what?

So they will have to find a way to perform better in the second Test, starting on Friday in Nottingham.

And if they don't? Will it matter? Not a jot.

Cricket is not about life and death. Should we forget that, we have life and death themselves to keep it real.

But someone will mark out a run-up at Trent Bridge on Friday and someone else will face the first ball, and cricket will go on even though life will seem to stand as still as death.

These truths are as inescapable as the fact that South Africa will have to deal with the disappointment of what happened at Lord's efficiently if they are not to go 2-0 down. And that on a tour on which they have already lost the one-day and Twenty20 series, and embarrassed themselves in the Champions' Trophy.

"It's really important that after [the Lord's] Test we don't fall into a mental hangover," Du Plessis said.

"That will be one of the most important jobs for me and the senior players this week: how to make sure we stay well away from that and focus on the next match."

Du Plessis will reclaim the captaincy from Dean Elgar, a decent man who will beat himself up for what happened under his watch.

Someone is going to have to tell him not to, not least because he is a crucial cog in a batting lineup.

Someone is also going to have to tell JP Duminy that he won't play in Nottingham, not after recording his 10 innings of fewer than 50 runs in his last dozen Test innings.

Kagiso Rabada already knows he is out of the second Test after earning a fourth demerit point for telling Ben Stokes to "f-off".

Annoying as Rabada's recklessness was, his captain saw a silver lining. "I would never say to KG: 'Change the way that you are.'

"It's important that he plays the way that he plays the game."

That way, they might play it better.