Get a room‚ Faf du Plessis and Dané van Niekerk
You would hope that‚ sometime before or after their joint press conference at O. R. Tambo International on Tuesday‚ Dané van Niekerk and Faf du Plessis are able to get a room.
And an internet connect slick enough to stream video. And an hour or so.
It’s not what you might think: they’ll also need access to searchable statistics and a flipchart.
Before South Africa’s captains and their teams go their separate ways — Van Niekerk and her women to the Caribbean for the World T20‚ Du Plessis and his men to Australia for three one-day internationals and a T20 — they could do worse than learn from each other.
Again‚ it’s not what you might think: this is not be about mansplaining. Here’s why.
Du Plessis’ side have had 30 matches this year‚ winning 15‚ losing 14‚ and the other abandoned.
How have Van Niekerk’s charges fared in 2018? Played 31‚ won 15‚ lost 13‚ two washed out and the other abandoned.
India‚ Australia‚ Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe have been the men’s opponents.
The women have taken on India‚ Bangladesh‚ New Zealand and England.
Twenty-one of the men’s games have been at home‚ and 16 of the women’s.
So there’s no room for oneupmanship.
By some measures — having to play away more often‚ for instance — quite the contrary. But oneupwomanship isn’t a thing.
Besides‚ if lacing together facts across formats is a fraught business‚ and it is‚ then trying to plot lines of logic to join the disparate dots that represent what it takes it takes to win a game played by men as compared to the same game played by women is an exercise in driving yourself‚ as my mother would have said‚ dilly.
If men’s cricket is from Mars‚ women’s cricket is from Venus. Except that they’re both firmly grounded here on earth.
It’s that simple and that complicated.
For all the arresting fury of Reeza Hendricks hammering bowlers through cover‚ there is the equal but still somehow opposite classiness of Lizelle Lee lashing what the coaching manual recognises as the same stroke — which is unrecognisable from Hendricks’ but no less electrifying.
If you think Dale Steyn is an aggressive fast bowler take a look at Marizanne Kapp. But don’t get too close: surely she bites.
You want to see skill? No-one can make a cricket ball do what Anya Shrubsole does‚ and six times an over more often than not.
Then there’s Natalie Sciver‚ the blade of her bat angled just so to send the ball scooting between her ankles and away to fine leg.
That women play cricket as well and as entertainingly as men is beyond dispute‚ and they probably think about the game more creatively.
Here‚ for instance‚ is Van Niekerk on batting in the Caribbean: “It’s not the kind of place where you can just plant your foot and throw your hands at the ball.
“But you have to find ways to score: you can’t just stand out there in the middle and say it’s difficult.
“We have to find ways to expand our games and maybe open up the V behind us.”
You can see lightbulbs exploding everywhere at the perfectly sensible notion of “the V behind us” — between third‚ umm‚ person and fine leg. But how many men have you heard talk about it in any sense‚ nevermind as a viable seam of runs?
Du Plessis would be stupid not to take note‚ and he’s not stupid. In return‚ he might offer Van Niekerk advice on how to refuse to blink in series-deciding games‚ an area in which the women have been found wanting.
South Africa’s men’s side have won five of their nine bilateral rubbers this year‚ the women’s team only one of six.
What else might be flipcharted‚ streamed and statistically dissected? Who knows‚ although Van Niekerk would be better off not telling Du Plessis a good way to get the best out of the leader of his attack is to marry him.
Their respective spouses would no doubt take a dim view‚ although Kapp would get the joke.
But best don’t tell her while she’s bowling.
Source: TMG Digital.